Daisuke Matsuzaka Looks to Finish Strong Against Cleveland

Jon Lester got the job done for the Red Sox on Thursday, and the Red Sox ended their six-game losing streak, the longest of the season.

The Red Sox won for the first time in a week, shutting out the Indians 3-0. They'll try to clinch a series split with Cleveland with Daisuke Matsuzaka on the hill on Friday, looking to close his season on a high note.

With just three games remaining in the regular season, Friday will be Dice-K's last chance to prove himself to the coaching staff, and to find out where he stands on the postseason roster and in the rotation.

When and Where

7:10 p.m. ET (NESN), Oct. 2, 2009
Fenway Park, Boston, Mass.

Records

Red Sox (92-67, 2nd  place in AL East)
Indians (65-94, 4th place in AL Central)

Head to Head

The Sox's win on Thursday improved their season record against Cleveland to 4-2. It was their first win since a 10-3 victory in Kansas City, Sept. 24, and snapped a six-game losing streak and season-high four-game losing streak. Jon Lester came back from being hit in the knee by a line drive in his last outing to dominate the Indians for his 15th win of the season, reaching that plateau for the second straight season.

Skinny

With another win against the Tribe the Sox will have their third straight season-series win against Cleveland. The Sox have not last a series to the Indians since April 25-27, 2006 in Cleveland. They are 14-5 against the Tribe since the start of the 2007 season, including a 10-3 record since July 26, 2007.

Starting Lineups

Indians
Red Sox
Michael Brantley, CF Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Jamey Carroll, 2B Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Shin-Soo Choo, RF Victor Martinez, 1B
Jhonny Peralta, 3B Kevin Youkilis, 3B
Travis Hafner, DH Jason Bay, LF
Matt LaPorta, 1B Mike Lowell, 3B
Luis Valbuena, SS Rocco Baldelli, RF
Kelly Shoppach, C Jason Varitek, C
Trevor Crowe, LF Alex Gonzalez, SS

Starting Pitchers

RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (3-6, 6.08 ERA) vs. LHP Jeremy Sowers (6-10, 5.09 ERA)

In his last start, Sept. 26 against the Yankees in Yankee Stadium, Matsuzaka took the loss while holding New York one run on six hits and five walks in seven innings. The only run he allowed was a solo home run to Robinson Cano in the sixth inning, but that was all the Yankees would need, as CC Sabathia shutout the Sox, 3-0.

This is first appearance of the season against the Indians. In two career starts against Cleveland, he is 1-1 with a 4.26 ERA (six earned runs in 12 2/3 innings). The last time he faced the Indians, July 24, 2007, in Cleveland, he pitched seven scoreless innings for a 1-0 win over Sabathia.

Sowers is making his 23rd appearance and 22nd start of the season. In his last start, Sept. 26 against the Orioles, he did not get a decision, going five innings, allowing five runs on six hits and four walks with three strikeouts, as the Indians won, 9-8.

In four career starts against the Sox he is 0-3 with a 7.48 ERA (18 earned runs, 21 2/3 innings). In his last outing against the Sox, in May, he went five innings allowing seven runs on seven hits.

Stat Sheet

Red Sox
Thursday’s 3-0 win over the Indians was the team’s 11th shutout of the season, and was the third time this season Sox pitchers have allowed three hits or fewer, the first time since July 12 against the Roylas.

The Sox have 23 players with at least one home run this season, tying the team record set in 1996.

Jason Bay needs six walks to reach the 100-walk mark for the second time in his career, along with 102 walks in 2006.

Jon Lester is 7-1 with a 2.73 ERA in his last 13 starts since July 25.

Jonathan Papelbon converted his 38th save of the season Thursday, and has converted each of his last 13 opportunities since July 30, posting a 1.50 ERA with 31 strikeouts in that span.

Victor Martinez has hit safely in each of his last 27 starts since Aug. 28, batting .347 (35-for-101) with two home runs and 15 RBI in those games.

Jacoby Ellsbury has a team-high 59 multi-hit games this season, the most by a Sox center fielder since Doc Cramer had 60 in 1939.

Indians
Thursday's loss was the Indians’ 12th straight on the road, beginning Aug. 30, tying a franchise record. The last time they lost that many in a row was in 1991.

The last time the Indians were shutout by the Sox on three hits or fewer at Fenway was a 3-0 loss June 8, 2000.

Thursday’s loss was the team’s 11th shutout of the season, and with Wednesday’s 1-0 loss to the White Sox, the Indians have been shutout in back-to-back for the second time this season.  

Thursday marked the sixth time this season the Indians have collected three or fewer hits. Three of those games have come since Sept. 13.

Shin-Soo Choo needs one home run to reach the 20-homer mark, which would make him the fourth player in the AL to hit 20 homers and steal 20 bases this season.

The Indians currently have 12 rookies on their roster, tied for most in the majors, with the Orioles, Diamondbacks, Reds, Pirates and Padres.

Black and Blue

Red Sox
Tim Wakefield has been hampered by an ailing back and leg.

Josh Beckett missed his start Monday because of back spasms. He is expected to make his next start Saturday against the Indians.

Right-hander Junichi Tazawa was placed on the 60-day DL Monday with a mild left groin strain.

Indians
Right-hander Jake Westbrook is on the 60-day DL after undergoing ulnar collateral ligament surgery.

Right-hander Anthony Reyes is on the 60-day DL with right elbow inflammations.

Right-hander Joe Smith is on the 15-day DL with a left knee sprain.

Outfielder Grady Sizemore is on the 15-day DL with left elbow and groin injuries.

This Date In Red Sox History

In 1983, Carl Yastrzemski played in his 3,308th and final game, hitting a single as the team's left fielder in the Sox 3-1 win over the Indians at Fenway Park.  

Overheard

“I don’t think it makes any sense to do it publicly until we get through guys’ next starts. Things happen. Our pitchers have an idea of what’s going on but for public consumption I don’t know that it really makes sense to do that.”
Terry Francona on his postseason rotation

Press Box

Red Sox
Lester led the Sox to a win.

Green and Lowrie are questionable for the ALDS.

Justin Masterson returned to Fenway for the first time since being traded.

Indians
Thursday's loss was a record defeat for the Indians.

Carlos Carrasco was knocked out of the game with an injury.

Eric Wedge would like another opportunity to manage.

MLB
The Twins are still alive in the AL Central

Bronson Arroyo insists he wasn’t cheating.

As Sox fans may remember, Hanley Ramirez is a complex guy.

Outlook

Another strong showing from Daisuke Matsuzaka would help to restore confidence in the Sox’ starting pitching, which has been beset by injuries and ailments recently, as the Sox head into the playoffs.  With a left-hander pitching against the Sox, Francona may try to rest some regulars and get some others playing time, although likely not to the extent of Wednesday’s game.  

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