Daisuke Matsuzaka Overcomes Rocky Start, Needs More Run Support to Gauge His Progression

by abournenesn

Jun 15, 2012

Daisuke Matsuzaka Overcomes Rocky Start, Needs More Run Support to Gauge His ProgressionIt was only Daisuke Matsuzaka's second start since returning from Tommy John surgery.

Through six innings in Friday's 3-0 loss to the Cubs, Matsuzaka allowed just four hits and three runs while striking out three batters. All in all, it was a quality outing, an encouraging sign for Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine.

But at this point, there's no real barometer for Matsuzaka. In the first inning, it appeared that Matsuzaka was reverting to old habits –– when it comes to issuing free passes –– and walked three batters.

The struggles snowballed, when Steve Clevenger unloaded a two-run single to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead. It continued in the second after Matsuzaka plunked Starlin Castro and surrendered an RBI hit to David DeJesus.

"I really struggled with my command early on," he told reporters in Chicago. "It was probably something that small that needed adjustment, and it just took a long time, took longer than I wanted to make that adjustment."

Give him credit for adjusting. After a rocky first two innings against the Cubs, Matsuzaka settled down and went on to retire 13 of the next 14 batters, giving the Red Sox an opportunity to back him with run support.

Of course, that never happened. In Matsuzaka's second straight start, the Red Sox' offense sputtered. Through two starts, he's only received two runs –– which came last Sunday against the Nationals –– to bail him out

That part, Matsuzaka can't control. Despite owning a 5.73 ERA through two starts, he's given Boston a chance to win on both occasions, which is all a team can really ask for from a pitcher.

"I did struggle early on, but after that, I was able to battle through and pitch," Matsuzaka said. "So I'd say that was a step up from my previous start."

He could easily be 2-0 for the Red Sox. So as he continues to adjust to major league action, Matsuzaka needs more run support to truly gauge how much progression he's made from Tommy John surgery.

Have a question for Didier Morais? Send it to him via Twitter at @DidierMorais or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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