David Ortiz did his part to make sure Daisuke Matsuzaka had a successful return to the majors. The designated hitter launched an eighth-inning solo home run a few yards above the garage doors in center field to add an insurance run in the Red Sox’ 4-1 win at Fenway Park on Tuesday.
Ortiz went 2-for-4, including an RBI single in the sixth that plated Jacoby Ellsbury. Timely hitting combined with a few Angels miscues — most notably a throwing error by pitcher John Lackey — added up to a good night for the Sox.
The real story of the night was the return of Matsuzaka, who went six strong innings, giving up only three hits (none before the fifth inning) and no runs. Matsuzaka also posted five strikeouts and no walks, notable considering the way walks have plagued him in the past. After mixed results in his rehabilitation starts and questions about his methods of conditioning, Matsuzaka's performance is encouraging to fans and teammates alike.
With the Sox winning and the Yankees dropping a game to Roy Halladay and the Blue Jays, the Yankees' division lead has dropped to 6 1/2 games. The Rangers' loss to the Oakland A's extends the Sox’ lead in the wild-card race to 5 1/2 games.
Despite the slow start to the season for Ortiz and multiple questions about the starting rotation, all the parts seem to be clicking for manager Terry Francona at just the right time.