Chase Wright (1–0, 5.40 ERA) vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka (1–2, 2.70 ERA)
The $102M man takes the mound tonight against his first real major league lineup (or at least 6/9 of one), and yeah, I’m excited to see what he’s got. I caught some of Dice K’s game against the Mariners when he was outclassed by Felix Hernandez, and he looked pretty good, but it was the Mariners.
It’s going to be pandemonium at Fenway for Sunday Night baseball on ESPN, the Sox looking to sweep the Yanks, the Yanks looking to put Dice K in his place. Chase Wright gets the start for the Yanks, no word on Johnny Damon’s availability and it didn’t look promising for Posada either.
In general, Japanese pitchers who have enjoyed success in the majors were tougher to hit their first time through the league. They’ve come over with funky deliveries, and the league has caught up to them after they’ve made the rounds. That’s obviously a generalization, and there’s no reason it should hold true with Dice K.
If you have good stuff, you have good stuff, no matter where you pitched the first 8–10 years of your career. Now, I don’t know if Matsuzaka has the stuff or makeup to be dominant in the big leagues, and neither does anyone else at this point (No one had better stuff than Jose Contreras, stuff isn’t everything). Being successful against the best hitters in the world means you have to be able to adjust, because they will adjust to you.
That being said, Dice K has never faced a lineup like the one he’s going up against tonight. Even if Damon and Posada are out, the 1–5 of the Yanks lineup will take pitches, foul pitches off, and make him earn his outs. After today, the information advantage shifts from Dice K to the Yanks. They will have seen him before. If he was ever going to make a splash in this rivalry, today would be the day.
In the other dugout, Chase Wright gets one more start to earn a job. Wang and Mussina are due back shortly. If this kid wants to extend his stay in the Bronx, he’s going to have to earn it. A solid performance tonight would go a long way toward that end.
In a nutshell: The Yanks pen had to work 4+ yesterday. Farnsworth probably isn’t available, Bruney and Proctor are pitching way too many innings for this early in the year, and Vizcaino has gotten roughed up his last two times out there. The big guns in the pen need a day off, not including Mo. The Sox other Far East import, Hideki Okajima has been lights-out in this series, I’m wondering if he’ll be available tonight.
Keys to the game: Wright needs to be more than just a warm body tonight, but what else is new? Jeter, Abreu and A-Rod are all torturing opposing pitchers, they need to get Dice K out early, if at all possible.
Sox blog-of-the-day: Extra Bases