Red Sox

Matsuzaka hammered in short-lived start


Matsuzaka hammered in short-lived start

By MaureenMullen

BOSTON For everything Josh Beckett delivered Sunday night against the Yankees, Daisuke Matsuzaka may have undone it all in two disastrous innings Monday against the reeling Rays, who entered Fenway Park with the worst record in baseball.

Matsuzaka lasted just two innings (plus two batters in the third), giving up seven runs on eight hits and two walks with two strikeouts and two home runs as the Rays pummeled the Red Sox, 16-5.

Yeah, show up early and youre excited for the game and by the second inning and youre kind of in survival mode, manager Terry Francona said. Thats a tough night.

Matsuzaka fell to 0-2, while his ERA more than doubled from 5.40 to 12.86. It was his shortest outing since lasting just one inning against the As on April 14, 2009,
in Oakland. He was put on the disabled list the day after that outing. This time around, however, both Matsuzaka and Francona assured reporters that the pitcher is healthy.

With the loss, Matsuzaka extended his career-high winless streak to seven starts, dating back to Sept. 7, 2010 against the Rays. In that stretch he is 0-4 (7.54).

The Rays entered the game hitting just .163 as a team. After pounding out 20 hits on Sox pitchers, they raised their team average to .201.

Matsuzaka has had limited success in his career against Tampa Bay. He's now 2-7 lifetime versus the Rays, with a 5.83 ERA.

To make it worse, Matsuzaka was facing a team that entered the game with a 1-8 record and had scored 11 runs in those 8 losses. Matsuzaka, however, surrendered seven runs in the first two innings.

In the first, he gave up a one-out, first-pitch solo homer to Johnny Damon before retiring the next two batters. In the second inning, though, the Rays sent 10 batters to the plate, with six scoring. The first seven eached base safely on six hits and a walk, including Sam Fulds two-run homer.

He came out in the first inning and threw a lot of strikes, Francona said. I know Damon hit the first-pitch fastball for a home run, but it looked like Matsuzaka was trying to establish fastball and breaking ball and he pumped strikes.

"And then we got into the second and everything went to the middle of the plate. There was one walk, but there was seven balls hit right on the barrel . . . We love when guys throw strikes, but there were balls that were middle-middle in the first seven hitters.

The timing of Matsuzakas stinker could not have been much worse. After taking two of three from the Yankees over the weekend, their first wins of the season, the Red Sox appeared to be riding high after Becketts gem Sunday night, shutting New York down on 10 strikeouts and two hits in eight innings. It should have been the kind of game that could generate some much-needed confidence and momentum.

How many times do you hear people say, Your momentum goes as far as your next day starter? And its true, Francona said. We felt great. Beckett pitched about as good a game as youre going to see. And were into the second inning and were swimming upstream. Thats a hard way to put anything together.

Matsuzaka had little explanation for his dismal performance.

Sunday Josh showed the great pitches and I wanted to bring the great flow to the team and throw todays game, he said through a team interpreter. But as you can see the result didnt follow through and I feel sorry for the team as well as the fans.

Based on the previous outing, previous experience, I wanted to go aggressive to pound the strike zone. However, my pitches came into the middle of the zone, and also I didnt have enough life to get the batters out.

It wasnt for a lack of mixing up his pitches, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said.

I was happy with him mixing the pitches up, Saltalamacchia said. He didnt just sit on one pitch. A couple of them were up over the plate that they were able to put some hits together. The other night we did the same thing and they could foul stuff and miss. So we just have to erase this one.

We used everything in the second inning. A couple changeups we left up and they were able to hit well. But he kept battling.

Not for long, though. Matsuzaka exited with no outs and two runners on in the third inning, the Sox trailing 7-0. The boos rained down on him.

Nobody really wants to get a booing from the fans, he said. And only way that I can change this is to show the good result in front of fans.

Matsuzaka was still in uniform when he met with the media after the game, despite exiting nearly three hours earlier. He had been studying video in the interim.

I watched a video after the game and I noticed theres a clear difference between when I pitch well and Im bad, he said. So theres something to fix for this part of it.

While that may offer a measure of encouragement for his next outing, it gives little consolation for this one.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

HOFer Joe Morgan's letter urges voters to keep steroid users out of Hall


HOFer Joe Morgan's letter urges voters to keep steroid users out of Hall

Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan is urging voters to keep “known steroid users” out of Cooperstown.

A day after the Hall revealed its 33-man ballot for the 2018 class, the 74-year-old Morgan argued against the inclusion of players implicated during baseball’s steroid era in a letter to voters with the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The letter from the vice chairman of the Hall’s board of directors was sent Tuesday using a Hall email address.

Read the full text of Morgan's letter here. 

“Steroid users don’t belong here,” Morgan wrote. “What they did shouldn’t be accepted. Times shouldn’t change for the worse.”

Hall voters have been wrestling with the issue of performance-enhancing drugs for several years. Baseball held a survey drug test in 2003 and the sport began testing for banned steroids the following year with penalties. Accusations connected to some of the candidates for the Hall vary in strength from allegations with no evidence to positive tests that caused suspensions.

About 430 ballots are being sent to voters, who must have been members of the BBWAA for 10 consecutive years, and a player needs at least 75 percent for election. Ballots are due by Dec. 31 and results will be announced Jan. 24.

Writers who had not been covering the game for more than a decade were eliminated from the rolls in 2015, creating a younger electorate that has shown more willingness to vote for players tainted by accusations of steroid use. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens each received a majority of votes for the first time in 2017 in their fifth year on the ballot.

Morgan said he isn’t speaking for every Hall of Famer, but many of them feel the same way that he does.

“Players who failed drug tests, admitted using steroids, or were identified as users in Major League Baseball’s investigation into steroid abuse, known as the Mitchell Report, should not get in,” Morgan wrote. “Those are the three criteria that many of the players and I think are right.”

Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez were inducted into the Hall of Fame in July. They were joined by former Commissioner Bud Selig and retired Kansas City and Atlanta executive John Schuerholz, who were voted in by a veterans committee.

Some baseball writers said the election of Selig, who presided over the steroids era, influenced their view of whether tainted stars should gain entry to the Hall.

Morgan praised BBWAA voters and acknowledged they are facing a “tricky issue,” but he also warned some Hall of Famers might not make the trip to Cooperstown if steroid users are elected.

“The cheating that tainted an era now risks tainting the Hall of Fame too,” he wrote. “The Hall of Fame means too much to us to ever see that happen. If steroid users get in, it will divide and diminish the Hall, something we couldn’t bear.”

© 2017 by The Associated Press

MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement


MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Major League Baseball will change rules to speed games next year with or without an agreement with the players' association.

Management proposed last offseason to institute a 20-second pitch clock, allow one trip to the mound by a catcher per pitcher each inning and raise the bottom of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap. The union didn't agree, and clubs have the right to impose those changes unilaterally for 2018.

Players and MLB have held initial bargaining since summer, and MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem said this week he would like an agreement by mid-January.

"My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can't get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other," baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday after a quarterly owners' meeting.

Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the regular season and 3:29 during the postseason.