In a full-page, poster-sized message to his fans, Daisuke Matsuzaka this morning wrote in English a note accompanying his picture in Sankei Sports — "World Series repeat. Cy Young Award. Boston Red Sox."
One of those is one step closer to fruition; the other is decidedly undecided.
As noted in the game thread, thank goodness these were the Oakland Athletics, a rebuilding AAAA club who offered at bad pitches, overran second to kill a rally, and had no answer for two Red Sox hitters at arguably the opposite ends of the fear spectrum — Manny Ramirez and Brandon Moss. If it had been the New York Yankees, I seriously doubt Matsuzaka would have even had the opportunity to turn his start around and improbably be in line for the win.
Hey, it’s just one game — nearly historic, sure (in the last 52 Opening Day starts, just two Sox pitchers walked more than Matsuzaka’s five) — and there was plenty to build on. Sure, Matsuzaka is one of just six Red Sox Opening Day starters since 1956 to walk five batters, but he’s also one of just 14 to strike out at least six.
Still, Snyder isn’t in a position to blow the game if Matsuzaka does his job in any kind of a reasonably efficient manner. Perhaps it was just homecoming jitters; maybe it was just a tough time getting a feel for his off-speed stuff. In any case, the Sox are depending on better outings than that — because not every opponent will be the Oakland A’s.