This is real news, at least in the Far East. Whether you consider Massachusetts or Japan the Far East doesn't really matter. All you need to know is that it's time for Daisuke Matsuzaka to pitch again, and that Friday night will be the only scheduled appearance in Texas this year for the Japanese sensation of the Red Sox. As of Wednesday, good tickets still remain.
Matsuzaka, or Dice-K as his more familiar first name is pronounced, hasn't exactly set the world afire since the Red Sox committed more than $103 million in posting fees and contracted salary to pry him from the Seibu Lions and keep him away from the two New York teams last winter.
Matsuzaka is 6-2 with a 4.06 ERA as he arrives in Texas. But he is on a hot streak as he takes on the Rangers for the first time in his career, having gone 3-0 with a 1.87 ERA in his last three starts. The stretch has lowered his season ERA more than a run. He has held opponents to a .235 batting average and has not issued a walk in two starts, so he clearly poses a challenge for Rangers hitters.
"I'm looking forward to seeing him," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "Certainly, I want to beat him. We're not going to run from what we have to face. Dice-K certainly doesn't have a perfect record."
Matsuzaka led the Pacific League in wins three times, and twice he topped the circuit in strikeouts and ERA. He was 108-60 with a 2.95 ERA in his 204-game Japanese career, and he was named the Most Valuable Player after leading his country to the championship of last year's World Baseball Classic.
"It's exciting to face him," Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "I faced him last year in the WBC, but I don't remember too much about him. But, he's obviously someone the media loves and is following. So, it's going to be cool to see what he's got."
As for the media crush Matsuzaka brings in his wake?
"We don't pay attention to that," Washington said. "We see it, we recognize it and we move on. If you've ever been in the playoffs, it's the same thing."
TEX: RHP Brandon McCarthy (4-4, 5.82 ERA)
McCarthy is 3-0 with a 2.31 ERA in his last four starts, holding opponents to a .202 batting average over what has been his best stretch of the season. In four career appearances (one start) against Boston, McCarthy is 1-1 with a 2.03 ERA and has held Red Sox hitters to a .170 batting average over 13 1/3 innings. He is 2-1 with a 6.23 ERA in three home starts this year.
BOS: RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (6-2, 4.06 ERA)
The 26-year-old right-hander has lasted at least seven innings in winning each of his last three starts. Matsuzaka told Japanese reporters he worked between starts this week on changing the grip on his changeup to improve the pitch.
Player to watch
Boston third baseman Mike Lowell has a home run in his only career at-bat against McCarthy.
Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.
On the Internet
Official game notes
FSN SW HD, (SAP)
KRLD 1080, KFLC 1270 (Español)
Saturday: Red Sox (Tim Wakefield, 4-5, 3.14) at Rangers (Vicente Padilla, 2-6, 5.52), 7:05 p.m. CT
Sunday: Red Sox (Julian Tavarez, 3-4, 5.27) at Rangers (Kameron Loe, 1-4, 6.38), 2:05 p.m. CT
Monday: Rangers (Robinson Tejeda, 4-4, 5.18) at A's (Colby Lewis, 0-1, 27.00), 9:05 p.m. CT