Daisuke Matsuzaka Sharp Again as Sox Roll Past Indians

Daisuke Matsuzaka Sharp Again as Sox Roll Past Indians Final, Red Sox 4-1: We finally have the second straight good start for Daisuke Matsuzaka, and perhaps finally can stop second-guessing him each time out. Matsuzaka tosses eight scoreless innings, and was so good that the moment he left the game the Indians finally scored.

Austin Kearns took Daniel Bard deep in the ninth but it was not nearly enough as the Sox improve to 18-5 against Cleveland over the past four seasons.

Mid 9th, Red Sox 4-0: The Sox are three outs from their seventh win in nine games, all against the teams they should beat at about that rate.

Daniel Bard is on in relief of Daisuke Matsuzaka, who allowed four hits and walked just two while striking out five in eight scoreless.

End 8th, Red Sox 4-0: A double play helps Daisuke Matsuzaka get through the eighth with nothing to worry about. He has not allowed a run in 13 2/3 innings. Daniel Bard will likely pitch the ninth.

I've touched on this before, but I'm just mildly concerned with Bard's work load. He saw his effectiveness decrease late last year, and has already thrown a ton in 2010.

Among AL relievers, only Randy Choate, Will Ohman and Scott Downs have appeared in more than Bard's 28 games. Bard has thrown more innings than all three of them, and his role is a bit more important.

Mid 8th, Red Sox 4-0: Hector Ambriz was hit extremely hard by the Sox in his second inning of relief. Bill Hall's RBI single was just one of a handful of Ambriz offerings that were positively stung.

Hall was thrown out trying to stretch his shot off the left field wall into a double, but the hit drove in Adrian Beltre, who nearly took Ambriz into the stands in right with a double to lead off the inning.

End 7th, Red Sox 3-0: Daisuke Matsuzaka ends the seventh by freezing the vaunted Mike Redmond on a breaking ball, Matsuzaka's fourth strikeout of the night.

The Indians' offense is rather pathetic. Still, I can't recall more than maybe one or two hard-hit balls against Matsuzaka all night. Shin-Soo Choo had a liner to center early on, and Austin Kearns' single in the first was a rope, but that's about it.

Matsuzaka has thrown 99 pitches.

Mid 7th, Red Sox 3-0: Boston, which entered the night tied for the most runs scored in the majors, has produced many of them via home runs and doubles. The Sox have three in this one on a pair of sacrifice flies and an RBI groundout.

Doesn't matter how you do it, I guess. But it's been a bit of a grinding offensive effort for a club that has been given seven walks and an error.

9:08 p.m.: Rafael Perez's outing lasts one batter, who walked to force a second pitching change in the inning. The Sox have the bases loaded with one out and Victor Martinez coming up.

Martinez has hammered lefties this year, so removing Perez was a no-brainer.

9:00 p.m.: With his third double of the game, Marco Scutaro improves to 10-for-21 (.476) against Fausto Carmona. A free pass to Dustin Pedroia, the sixth for Carmona, ends the night for the big righty.

End 6th, Red Sox 2-0: The Indians have yet to get a runner past second base against Daisuke Matsuzaka, who has thrown 84 pitches through six scoreless.

Dustin Pedroia better watch out. The Sox just selected second baseman Kolbrin Vitek in the draft. Go to Daniel Rathman's live blog for more info on the pick and everything else that is going on.

Mid 6th, Red Sox 2-0: Victor Martinez is enjoying his homecoming, ripping a single to go with his double from earlier in the game.

It is one of four hits the Red Sox have against Fausto Carmona, to go along with five walks. But seven men have been stranded by Carmona.

The Red Sox' pick in the draft is coming up in a few minutes. It is televised on MLBTV.

End 5th, Red Sox 2-0: Daisuke Matsuzaka continues to roll, and for the second time in this one is unharmed by an Adrian Beltre error.

Beltre misplayed a hard grounder with two outs. Jason Donald, who reached on the play, was then thrown out trying to steal second.

Mid 5th, Red Sox 2-0: Marco Scutaro led off an inning with a double for the second time. He scored when it first happened. This time he is left at third as the Sox waste another scoring chance.

Scutaro moved to third on a Dustin Pedroia groundout, just as he did in the first. But David Ortiz's chopper to first was not good enough to bring in the runner and Kevin Youkilis struck out to end it.

Boston has left five men on, including one on third base each of the last two innings, and has hit into one double play.

End 4th, Red Sox 2-0: Daisuke Matsuzaka gave up his second hit of the game in the fourth inning but it came on a weak bloop that fell in no-man's land. Otherwise, Matsuzaka is making quick work of one of the American League's weakest offenses.

Mid 4th, Red Sox 2-0: Victor Martinez had 95 doubles at Progressive Field as a member of the Cleveland Indians. He now has one as an opponent.

Martinez led off with the double and moved to third, but did so on a double play. That's the thing with sinkerball pitchers like Fausto Carmona — they can be so bad at times but are always just a pitch away from a double play.

In addition to the double, Carmona walked two in the fourth but still managed to get out of it without a run being scored. The old double play ball was the reason.

End 3rd, Red Sox 2-0: The Indians get their first walk against Daisuke Matsuzaka, the first he has issued since that eight-walk debacle against Kansas City two starts ago.

Trevor Crowe, who drew the walk, stole second, but was left right there when Shin-Soo Choo lined to center.

Dice-K has 8 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings.

Mid 3rd, Red Sox 2-0: A whole bunch of small ball for the Sox so far in this one, and David Ortiz's blinding speed helps them get a second run.

After Josh Reddick reached on an error and stole his first career base, he was moved to third on a Dustin Pedroia grounder. Ortiz followed with a grounder into the defensive shift that nearly resulted in an inning-ending double play, if not for the grey blur flying down the line.

Ortiz beat the throw to first by a half-step and Reddick scored.

The double play attempt was a bit slow to develop, which is one of the risks you take when you arrange the defense in a shift.

End 2nd, Red Sox 1-0: If there was ever a night that the Red Sox need Daisuke Matsuzaka to show the good stuff, it might be Monday, what with the thin bullpen and depleted bench. So far, so good.

Matsuzaka cruises through the second inning and has now tossed 7 2/3 scoreless frames in a row.

Mid 2nd, Red Sox 1-0: The Sox go extremely quietly in the second inning against Fausto Carmona, who has taken steps to regain his 2007 form.

Carmona, who won 19 games that year for Cleveland, has the dive on his electric sinker and is at least throwing a few more strikes than he did during two rough seasons in 2008 and 2009.

End 1st, Red Sox 1-0: Daisuke Matsuzaka entered with a 15.43 ERA in the first inning this year, giving up 12 earned runs in the opening frame in his seven outings this year. A baserunning blunder helps him get through the first in this one without any issues.

Austin Kearns did manage a two-out single and was rounding second on Russell Branyan's chopper behind the mound that Adrian Beltre could not handle (Beltre was playing near short as the Sox were in a defensive shift). When Beltre finally picked the ball up with no chance to get Branyan, he turned to find Kearns far off second base.

Beltre tracked down Kearns near third base and tagged him for the final out. The Sox third baseman was charged with an error, allowing Branyan to reach.

The first-inning ERA for Matsuzaka is down to 13.50.

Mid 1st, Red Sox 1-0: Double. Groundball. Flyball. Run. That's how you manufacture one.

Marco Scutaro had the double. Dustin Pedroia moved him up 90 feet on a chopper to third. After a David Ortiz walk, Kevin Youkilis sent a drive to the warning track in center to easily plate Scutaro.

The reception for Victor Martinez was somewhat tame, in large part due to the tiny crowd. There was much more emotion when V-Mart left town less than a year ago.

7:03 p.m.: The draft is underway. Again, please follow Daniel Rathman's live blog for all the coverage. The Washington Nationals are officially on the clock.

6:59 p.m.: With no Jonathan Papelbon and likely no Manny Delcarmen, the bullpen is in tough shape. Not a good night for Daisuke Matsuzaka's good start-bad start routine to continue; the pattern would have him due for a short outing Monday.

One guy to keep an eye on will be Ramon Ramirez. The once-dominant Ramirez, who has struggled for the better part of a year now, may have to step into a more prominent role for the next few days.

Ramirez has a 5.82 ERA this year but has had some success against righties, holding them to a .240 average.

6:40 p.m.: Among the many happenings on this Monday evening (Sox-Indians, MLB draft) comes the announcement that we will have soccer at Fenway Park in just over a month.

The Sox will be in Oakland that day.

6:23 p.m.: On the injury front, Manny Delcarmen is not expected to pitch in this one due to his troublesome back, an issue which goes back a couple of weeks. Also, Mike Cameron is expected back in there Tuesday night.

David Ortiz, who took a pitch off his left wrist, is apparently just fine. Also, Jeremy Hermida is available to pinch hit but may be about a day away from getting another start.

5:50 p.m.: The word from Terry Francona's desk is a mixed bag. Boof Bonser has been activated from the disabled list and will work out of the bullpen. He is replacing closer Jonathan Papelbon, who has been placed on the bereavement list for unspecified reasons.

Here is the complete story on the movements, which will thrust Daniel Bard into the closer role for three days or so, the period of time Francona said Papelbon will be out.

Also, as a reminder, tonight is the first of three for the MLB First-Year Player Draft. I'll do my best to follow along and chime in if I can, but for the full coverage of the event, follow Daniel Rathman's live blog of the draft.

Back in a bit with more updates.

3:55 p.m.: Victor Martinez will catch and bat fifth in his first game back in Cleveland since being traded to the Red Sox last summer.

Martinez hit .297 with 103 home runs in parts of eight seasons with the Indians, becoming a fan favorite and a beloved part of the Cleveland community.

He will hit behind Kevin Youkilis in a formidable Red Sox lineup. Here are the starting nine for both squads:

Red Sox

Marco Scutaro, SS
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Kevin Youkilis, 1B
Victor Martinez, C
J.D. Drew, RF
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Bill Hall, LF
Josh Reddick, CF

Indians

Trevor Crowe, CF
Shin-Soo Choo, RF
Austin Kearns, LF
Russell Branyan, 1B
Jhonny Peralta, 3B
Travis Hafner, DH
Luis Valbuena, 2B
Mike Redmond, C
Jason Donald, SS

7:21 a.m.: Daisuke Matsuzaka will try to build upon a solid outing five days ago when he leads the Red Sox into the first of four straight games against the Cleveland Indians on Monday night.

The 29-year-old Matsuzaka continues to swap good starts and bad starts. He rebounded from a horrid outing against Kansas City last month to allow three runs (all in the first inning) in 6 2/3 innings in a win over Oakland.

The Sox, who are 17-5 against the Indians over the last three years, will be up against resurgent righty Fauston Carmona.

First pitch is 7:05 p.m.

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