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Matsuzaka shaky in start for PawSox

By Mike Scandura
Globe Correspondent / May 13, 2012
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PAWTUCKET, R.I. - By his own admission, Daisuke Matsuzaka won’t be making his next start for the Boston Red Sox.

That was apparent even to the untrained eye Saturday night when Matsuzaka was tagged for five runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings in a rehab start for the Pawtucket Red Sox against the Columbus Clippers.

Matsuzaka struck out five and walked only one, but he also hit two batters.

“I’m not sure where I’m going to be pitching for my next outing but it’s probably going to be in the minors,’’ Matsuzaka said through interpreter Jeff Cutler. “It’s my assumption. In that game I need to work on my two-seam, which is supposed to be a pitch that’s going to help me. It put me behind in the count a lot tonight.’’

Boston placed Matsuzaka on the disabled list last May 17 and he underwent Tommy John surgery on June 10.

In four rehab starts spanning Single, Double, and Triple A he’s pitched 18 2/3 innings and allowed 10 runs (nine earned) and 18 hits, with six walks and 19 strikeouts.

Matsuzaka’s ERA ballooned from 2.71 to 4.33 after his latest start.

“I was pretty satisfied with my fastball . . . it improved from my last outing,’’ said Matsuzaka, who topped out at 93 miles per hour on the radar gun and consistently threw his fastball in the 88-92 range. “Areas that I’m not too happy about were my offspeed pitches.’’

The Red Sox must decide what to do with Matsuzaka when his 30-day rehab window closes May 23.

“My elbow felt better than it did last time and my body felt great,’’ Matsuzaka said after throwing 54 of his 90 pitches for strikes. “But looking at tonight’s results, there are obvious areas I need to work on. That would be command of my offspeed pitches. Most of the hits came off my offspeed pitches.’’

Matsuzaka encountered his first jam in the third inning when Gregorio Petit and Ezequiel Carrera sandwiched singles around a strikeout of Ben Copeland.

Andy LaRoche’s hit-and-run single scored Petit. But Matsuzaka averted further damage by retiring Cord Phelps on a foul pop and Chad Huffman on a liner to right.

Matsuzaka’s most impressive inning was the fourth when he struck out the side. He caught Beau Mills, Russ Canzler, and Matt Pagnozzi looking at third strikes.

But Matsuzaka hit Petit leading off the fifth and Copeland, the Clippers’ No. 9 batter, pulled a two-run homer to right field.

The sixth began in the same manner as Matsuzaka plunked Huffman to lead off and then was clipped for a two-run homer by Canzler, which tied the game at 5.

Copeland’s homer came on a changeup, Canzler’s on a cutter.

“My command on those pitches wasn’t there,’’ Matsuzaka said. “But when I threw more fastballs the results showed. They were good. When I threw more offspeed pitches the results didn’t come through.’’

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