Daisuke didn't look so sharp today against the Baltimore Orioles. I have to say I was nervous seeing him trotted out against an AL East team, but if all Sox pitchers were kept away from AL East opponents, there'd be half as many Spring Training games as are apparently necessary. He's gotta face 'em sometime--and maybe it's for the best they didn't see him with his best stuff.
The NESN broadcasters have conclusively identified the gyroball as a Pedro-Martinez style turned-over changeup, without quite as sharp a break. Matsuzaka threw a few beauts today, mostly in his highly efficient first inning. That first inning ended with Sox supporters standing and applauding under the lazy Florida sun, as he thew gem after gem, his location sharp, his fastball humming around 92, the breaking pitches huge and sweeping.
I'm not sure what happened after that. With two men on base in the fourth, Matsuzaka induced a ground ball he fielded himself, then wheeled to feed it to the second baseman for a double play, and missed. He threw the ball into center field. Afterward, in slow motion, NESN lingered on his face throughout the replay. I thought of my dad's line: "Around here we live for a guy to strike out against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in May." His outing was over shortly after that.
Now we find ourselves at 4 to 2, O's. Julian Tavarez just got a Lowell-anchored double play and has a full count to Brian Roberts (I think? NESN sound is all screwed up today). Then he walked him. Fortunately, Miguel Tejada flies out to J.D. Drew to end the inning.
Repeat after me: It's only March. It's only March. It's only March.
P.S. Just before Mike Lowell's bloopy single to bring it within one, the cameras showed Bill Belichick, decked out in casual golf gear, jawing into a cell phone, lounging around languidly while the game went on...only he wasn't in some seats in the bleachers or even right behind home plate--as the camera pulled back a bit Tito came into view; Belichick, looking frankly bored, is sitting right next to him in the dugout. Still, this can only be a good sign.