Obviously, the sixth inning did the Red Sox in today — 10-run innings have a way of doing that to you.
However, don't lose sight on what Daisuke Matsuzaka did on Sunday.
For someone who has struggled with consistency, it's certainly nice for Sox fans to see him put together two consecutive solid innings. In fact, in his last two outings, he's given up just two earned runs in 10 2/3 innings of work. More importantly, however, is the fact that he's allowed just three walks in that time.
If he can keep the consistency going into the regular season, the resurgence of Dice-K could be one of the biggest storylines early on this season.
Mid 9th, Cardinals 10-3: Rich Hill didn't do himself many favors in his quest for a roster job, either in the ninth inning.
In fact, a pitch he threw to Luis Mateo would have went behind the Cardinal. The only thing stopping it from doing so, was the backside of Mateo. To say Hill missed his spot would be a understatement to say the very least.
He bounced back, somehow escaping the inning without giving up a run, but it wasn't exactly an inning pitching coaches will one day point to and say, "That is how you succeed as a major league pitcher."
End 8th, Cardinals 10-3: Better late than never as the Red Sox get on board here in the eighth.
Marco Scutaro finished off a stellar day with his second hit of the day. His average is now up over .300 for the spring.
Nate Spears added a pair of RBI in the eighth with a ringing RBI-double as part of a three-run eighth frame for the home team.
Mid 8th, Cardinals 10-0: Despite giving up a one-out double in the eighth, Dennys Reyes was able to wiggle out of the inning without surrendering a run.
It was a solid outing for a lefty reliever trying to earn a spot on the major league roster.
End 7th, Cardinals 10-0: The Red Sox were able to muster a couple of hits, a nice change of pace for an offense that has been dormant, but a double play ends the inning and adds to the afternoon's frustration.
Dennys Reyes comes on to work the eighth inning for the Red Sox.
Mid 7th, Cardinals 10-0: Scott Atchison gave up a pair of hits, but he was able to get out of the inning unscathed.
Again, while it's hard to not think about the 10-run sixth inning for the Cardinals, don't sleep on what Daisuke Matsuzaka did today.
He had impressive command of his fastball, and he was able to work ahead most of the afternoon. When you think about it, too, the only thing that stood between him and getting out of the sixth was Albert Pujols. So you might have to let that one slide.
End 6th, Cardinals 10-0: While you can't be happy with the Red Sox bullpen in this one, the arms shown against the Cardinals, likely won't be seen much at Fenway — at least not early on.
With the Red Sox bullpen now imploding, let's give you on update on the state of the pen going forward, again courtesy of Tony Lee's dilligence.
Jonathan Papelbon will throw two innings for the first and only time of the spring at minor league camp on Monday. Daniel Bard will also throw, and he will be simulating the up-and-down aspect of relieving as he will end an inning, sit, and will then start the next. Bobby Jenks, will also throw on Monday at minor league camp. He'll likely throw on Tuesday, as well, giving him an opportunity to throw on back-to-back days.
Mid 6th, Cardinals 10-0: Yikes.
Scott Atchison, who came in for Andrew Miller, fared no better. Well, actually, he technically did, as he actually recorded an out, but that was the only improvement.
Like Miller, Atchison walked the first guy he faced, loading the bases for Albert Pujols. That, is a recipe for disaster.
Pujols, naturally, made the righty pay with a bases-clearing RBI double to the left-center gap.
All in all, the Cards send 14 guys to the plate, and 10 of them score. To think, it all came with two outs in the inning.
6th inning, Cardinals 6-0: Matsuzaka issues his second walk of the day, this one to Albert Pujols. Since it was to Pujols, though, it doesn't really count.
The RBI-double that Matt Holliday hit right after, though, did count.
The double, which was absolutely tattooed to center, ends the day for Dice-K.
Final line: 5 2/3 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 2 BB, 4 K, 79 pitches (50 strikes)
Not a bad day.
Andrew Miller, on the other hand, had a dreadful outing. He inexcusably walked the first guy he faced — left-handed Colby Rasmus — before allowing a RBI single to David Freese, who just happens to hit right-handed.
Then, he gives up a bloop single to Yadier Molina, scoring the third run of the inning. He made things worse by allowing another single, before issuing a bases-loaded walk. All in all, the Cards push four runs across in the sixth.
Miller was just lifted after facing six batters and not recording a single out.
End 5th, 0-0: Marco Scutaro is having a nice day out of the No. 9 spot in the lineup. He walked in his first plate appearance before singling up the middle here in the fifth.
If he's turning the lineup over consistently like he is today, the Red Sox lineup becomes that much more dangerous.
His work is spoiled here, though, by a Jacoby Ellsbury flyout that Matt Holliday catches as he runs into the left-field wall.
Mid 5th, 0-0: If Daisuke Matsuzaka can pitch anything like he is on Saturday in Fort Myers, he will be one heckuva No. 5 pitcher for the Sox this season.
He works around a leadoff single from David Freese, to post another scoreless frame.
Just as impressively, he's thrown only 63 pitches through five innings.
End 4th, 0-0: What we have in Florida right now, is a sportswriter's dream thus far, with both pitchers cruising.
Allow me to pass along some news, courtesy of NESN.com Red Sox beat writer Tony Lee, who is in all likelihood soaking up some rays right now during some well-deserved time off.
Adrian Gonzalez, who we just saw ground out, will play in back-to-back games for the first time this spring on Tuesday and Wednesday. Sort of. He's slated to be in at first base on Tuesday, and then he'll follow that up by occupying the designated hitter role in Wendesday's minor league contest.
Mid 4th, 0-0: Matsuzaka just did something that not many major league pitchers are able to do. He fell behind to Albert Pujols, 2-0, and he lived to tell about.
Dice-K was able to get Pujols to hit a lazy popup to Dustin Pedroia at second base.
Maybe more impressive, though, was the pitch he threw to Matt Holliday in the next at-bat. Matsuzaka buried a 91 mph fastball on the inside corner, that Holliday could only muster popup to Jason Varitek on.
End 3rd, 0-0: Perhaps home plate umpire Chad Fairchild has late lunch reservations on Sanibel Island or something today, because his strike zone is huge right now.
Jason Varitek was the latest victim of that as he went down on strikes, something that he was none too pleased about.
Speaking of the captain, it's important to note that Matsuzaka is once again pitching very sharply with Varitek behind the plate. He caught Dice-K in his impressive start earlier in the week, and he's yielding favorable results today, as well.
Mid 3rd, 0-0: Naturally, two innings after praising the defensive speed of the Red Sox, a ball falls in between Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury and Marco Scutaro. That, is baseball.
Regardless, Daisuke Matsuzaka works around that Jon Jay single, and strikes out Allen Craig to end the inning.
Dice-K's pitch count is getting up there, kind of, but that's a product of four strikeouts more than anything else. He looks very solid right now.
End 2nd, 0-0: Leadoff walks usually signal bad news for pitchers. So naturally, both pitchers in this one work around leadoff walks in the second inning.
Cardinals starter Kyle McLellan walked Kevin Youkilis to open the inning, but got David Ortiz to hit into a textbook 3-6-1 double play to make sure no damage was done.
Mid 2nd, 0-0: I have found a solution to the Daisuke Matsuzaka consistency issue. Have Chad Fairchild umpire every game Dice-K pitches.
Matsuzaka is through two scoreless innings, and he is pounding the strike zone. Fairchild seems to have a relatively large zone, though, especially in that last at-bat against Yadier Molina. The called second strike appeared to be in the left-handed batter's box.
Matsuzaka did issue a leadoff walk, but worked around in it.
End 1st, 0-0: Carl Crawford knocks a two-out single, but he ends up stranded at first when Adrian Gonzalez lines out to left to end the inning.
Red Sox fans know what Crawford is capable of, but they must really be excited to see Gonzalez everyday. It's become cliche almost to say how much perfectly his swing fits into Fenway Park, but it is true. It seems like everything he hits is to left field, and if he can drive the ball that way frequently at the Fens, look out.
Mid 1st, 0-0: Daisuke Matsuzaka has a solid first inning, retiring the Cardinals in order relatively easy.
We got a good look at what may be the most overlooked aspect of the Red Sox this season — the speed of their defense.
Jon Jay led off the game with a lazy fly ball to center, that Jacoby Ellsbury charged hard before making a running catch.
Simply put, balls are not going to be falling in this season, with a healthy infield and a speedy, revamped outfield. John Lackey will aprove. For sure.
1:05 p.m.: It's 79 degrees in Fort Myers right now. In Watertown, Mass., it's 41 degrees. Advantage: Fort Myers.
The Sox have taken the field in their home whites, and we're just moments away from first pitch.
12:55 p.m.: Here are the lineups for Saturday afternoon's tilt in Fort Myers.
Jon Jay, RF
Allen Craig, DH
Albert Pujols, 1B
Matt Holliday, LF
Colby Rasmus, CF
David Freese, 3B
Yadier Molina, C
Daniel Descalso, 2B
Tyler Greene, SS
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Carl Crawford, LF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Kevin Youkilis, 3B
David Ortiz, DH
J.D. Drew, RF
Jason Varitek, C
Marco Scutaro, SS
8 a.m.: It's going to be a star-studded couple of days for the Red Sox, starting on Sunday when the Cardinals come to town.
On Monday, Jon Lester and the Sox will take on Roy Halladay and the Phillies, but first, Boston welcomes arguably the game's best player, Albert Pujols, to Fort Myers.
Pujols is expected to be among Cardinal players making the cross-state trek from Jupiter to the Fort. Also expected to be a part of the traveling party is outfielder Matt Holliday.
Daisuke Matsuzaka takes the mound for the Red Sox in search of the consistency that has alluded him all spring. He's looking to build on a very impressive start in his last outing, a scoreless five-inning effort against the Tigers.
Expected to follow Matsuzaka are relievers Andrew Miller, Scott Atchison, Rich Hill and Dennys Reyes.
First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m.