We've all been there. Things are going along just fine and then -- WHAM! -- something catches us completely unawares and floors us.
Well, that's what happened to Daisuke Matsuzaka yesterday in Boston's 12-9 loss at Baltimore. For four innings, Daisuke looked like the 2008 model that went 18-3 and was a Cy Young finalist. Then the fifth inning showed up and -- WHAM! -- 2009 Dasiuke showed up and cracked him with a 2x4.
The box score says it all. In the first four innings, Daisuke allowed one run on one hit, walked two and struck out four. Boston was ahead 4-1. In the fifth it was six runs on six hits (including two homers), five of those runs coming with two outs. Boston was down 7-4. And while the Sox made a game of it, they could never come all the way back.
What does this mean for Daisuke? Will he be able to bounce back in his next start? Or will he get gun-shy, start pitching around the edges of the plate and revert to his 2009 form?
Tim Wakefield came on in relief and allowed those five other runs, which came off of three home runs. The only solid arm last night? Manny Delcarmen, who pitched a clean eighth. He hasn't allowed a run since April 16th and only one hit in that same period. The kid looks really good right now.
As usual, Boston's bats were not enough to trump the starting pitching implosion. Not that they didn't try; nine runs on twelve hits is usually enough to win a baseball game. Hell, David Ortiz went 2-4 with two RBI, courtesy of a pair of solo shots in the second and ninth innings. But once again, it was wasted because Boston's starters could not get the job done.
This is beginning to get a little worrisome now that we are a month into the season. Boston can obviously hit; that concern about a power outage was misplaced. The relief corps is starting to settle down; you know the best three are Delcarmen, Bard and Papelbon. But the starters...the only reliable starter right now is Clay Buchholz. Although one hopes with his last outing that Jon Lester is coming back into form. But it's been a real crapshoot so far, and now with Daisuke coming back and blowing up, who knows how he will react in his second start?
The Sox now stand on the verge of being swept by the Orioles. It's Beckett and Millwood today. It's another game the Sox could win going away or end up getting blown away. But a win would be nice since starting tomorrow Boston has a seven-game homestand against the Angels and Yankees. Some people will say that homestand will decide the season. I think it's a little early to call the season over by May, but it may very well define Boston's season.