Dice-K to make first start in the Bronx
Boston (14-7) at New York (8-12), 7:05 p.m. ET
A three-game sweep of the Yankees last weekend in Fenway Park gave the Red Sox confidence they carry to New York for Friday's opener of a weekend series. Right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka, who outlasted the Yankees for a victory in his last start on Sunday, pitches for Boston in the opener.
"I don't know if he's ever been to New York, but he's never pitched there," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "The mound will be [different]. There's a lot of firsts. We didn't sign this guy to help us for the first three months of the year. We think he can help us for a long time. The more we find out about him, fortunately, the more excited we get."
Matsuzaka's performance in his debut against the Yankees left the Japanese import wanting to contribute more. He allowed a season-high six runs on eight hits, a walk and two hit batsmen over seven innings. Four straight Red Sox homers bailed him out, though.
"There's no way I could be satisfied after initially allowing three runs and then my teammates through those four consecutive home runs taking the lead," Matsuzaka said earlier this week. "What I wanted most of all was to hold the lead, and I couldn't do that. When I get a chance to pitch again in New York [on Friday], it will be something that I will be conscious of, and I will do my best not to repeat the problems that I had [on Sunday]."
Boston is 2-0 on the five-game swing that will conclude in the Bronx. The reeling Yankees, who have dropped six straight and are in last place in the American League East, will send left-hander Andy Pettitte to the mound in the opener.
"There's no doubt guys can try too hard, instead of just relaxing and going out and getting outs," Pettitte said. "We may have got into that situation a little bit. But again, it's a long season. We need to pitch better, that's just all there is to it."
Friday's game will mark the first Major League meeting between Matsuzaka and Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui, who was on the disabled list when the teams met last weekend on Boston. Matsui and Matsuzaka greeted one another before the only Spring Training game between the Sox and Yankees, exchanging several bows and handshakes in a short ceremony behind home plate.
But this will be their first encounter on American soil. Playing in different Japanese leagues, the two met only in All-Star Games and the Japan Series. Those faceoffs have been a standoff of sorts. Matsui is 1-for-2 with a home run against Matsuzaka in All-Star Games in 1999 and 2001. But in the 2002 Japan Series, Matsuzaka held Matsui to an 0-for-3 mark with three strikeouts and a walk.
Francona hopes the renewal of a rivalry between the Japanese stars coincides with the continuation of the recent Red Sox dominance over the Yankees.
"The games are always exciting," he said. "Obviously it's more exciting when you win, but it's never easy."
BOS: RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (2-2, 4.00 ERA)
Matsuzaka has yet to show the extended dominance that was expected of him, but he's kept the Red Sox in games and has racked up strikeouts. The right-hander has gone at least six innings in all four of his starts and has 31 strikeouts in 27 innings.
A return to New York has agreed with the left-handed Texan, whose scheduled Wednesday start was pushed back to Friday by a rainout. Pettitte appeared in relief against the Red Sox on Sunday, two days after he took a no-decision after allowing two runs on eight hits over 6 1/3 innings. Player to watch
David Ortiz loves to hit in the Bronx, where he is 53-for-163 (.325) lifetime, with 14 homers and 26 RBIs. On the Internet
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WEEI-850 AM; WRKO-680 AM, Spanish Baseball Network (Español) Up next
Saturday: Red Sox (RHP Tim Wakefield, 2-2, 2.08) at Yankees (RHP Jeff Karstens, 0-1, 14.54), 3:55 p.m. ET
Sunday: Red Sox (RHP Julian Tavarez, 0-2, 8.36) at Yankees (RHP Chien-Ming Wang, 0-1, 5.68), 1:05 p.m. ET
Tuesday: Athletics (RHP Joe Blanton, 2-1, 3.55) at Red Sox (RHP Curt Schilling, 3-1, 3.27), 7:05 p.m. ET
Pete Kerzel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.