Yankees get first look at Dice-K
New York (8-8) at Boston (11-5), 8:05 p.m. ET
On Sunday night, the Yankees get their first look at the $103.1 million man, Daisuke Matsuzaka. Its own pitching staff worn raw by injuries and underperformance -- two days in the grinder of Fenway Park have been no kinder to Mariano Rivera than to Jeff Karstens -- the Yankees will look for a measure of control in the series finale.
The responsibility will fall on Chase Wright to provide it. A left-handed curveball specialist, Wright brings a steady, seven-year Minor League record and almost no big-league experience to Fenway.
Before his first career start on Tuesday, when he allowed the Indians three earned runs over five innings, Wright had never pitched before a larger crowd than the one he saw in Lakeland, Fla., during a Spring Training start against the Tigers. Wright's spot on the roster is more likely a function of health woes -- three Yankees starters remain on the disabled list -- than his strong 2.84 ERA in 12 2/3 innings in March.
Things have changed in a hurry for the 24-year-old from Wichita Falls, Texas.
"You know," Wright said, "I kind of had an idea at the start of the season that maybe if I pitched good at the end of the year, there'd be a chance I'd get a callup."
But not now. Not during the first month of the season, and not just in time to be counted on putting an end to a two-game losing streak in Boston. Worried?
"Nah," said a grinning Wright, who pitched against state tournament crowds at Texas' Iowa Park High School. "I'm just excited, looking to go have fun, you know?"
On the other hand, if Sunday night's atmosphere lives up to its billing, nowhere will the spotlight -- or, rather, the flashbulbs -- shine brighter than on fellow rookie Matsuzaka in his first start against the Yankees. The probability of an A-Rod vs. Dice-K match-up will entice Matsuzaka's Japanese fans, among very many others, as the right-handed sensation meets one of the world's most famous hitters.
On Saturday, manager Joe Torre said that the two "don't know a whole lot about each other."
In the absence of any collective experience against Matsuzaka, Sunday night's assignment will be especially daunting, said designated hitter Jason Giambi.
"The biggest thing is to try to swing at strikes," said Giambi. "Just try to keep it that simple. If you just swing at strikes, hopefully you'll get some type of advantage. You know, we haven't faced him. So he definitely has the advantage. He has the advantage right now."
BOS: RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-2, 2.70 ERA)
Matsuzaka shined in the absence of much run support on Tuesday in Toronto, allowing three hits and two runs in six innings and striking out 10 in a 2-1 loss. While matching his previous season high in strikeouts, Matsuzaka also threw 105 pitches in a relatively inefficient six innings of work. He has now registered 24 strikeouts against only five walks in 20 innings this season.
The 2006 Florida State League Pitcher of the Year, Wright makes his second career Major League start on ESPN. The left-hander gave up three runs in five innings of work against Cleveland on Tuesday. Player to watch
Yankees catcher Jorge Posada's status for Sunday is "iffy," according to Torre. If Posada, who injured his left thumb while catching on Friday, is indeed sidelined, Matsuzaka's task against one of the league's deepest lineups will be that much easier.
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WCBS-AM 880 AM, WZAA-FM 92.3 FM (Espanol) Up next
Monday: Yankees (Kei Igawa, 1-0, 6.06) at Devil Rays (Casey Fossum, 1-1, 6.11), 7:10 p.m. ET
Tuesday: Yankees (Chien Ming-Wang, 19-6, 3.63 in 2006) at Devil Rays (Scott Kazmir, 1-1, 5.25), 7:10 p.m. ET
Wednesday: Yankees (Andy Pettitte, 1-0, 1.85) vs. Blue Jays (A.J. Burnett, 1-1, 5.57), 7:05 p.m. ET
Alex McPhillips is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.