After the first time Dice-K faced Tampa Bay, at Fenway on July 3, Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon said his team would be better off the next time, after suffering through 8 innings of shutout ball from the imported righthander. Maddon said the deception wouldn’t work as well the next time.
Well, it looks like it took two more outings. Matsuzaka earned the loss against the Rays in Tropicana Field on July 29, but gave up just two runs in 6 1/3 innings. This afternoon, it looks like the Rays have him figured out. After a four-run third, it’s 5-0 visitors here.
Akinori Iwamura led off with a single to center, followed by a swinging bunt by Carl Crawford that settled near the first base line that Dice-K couldn’t barehand, though the speedy Crawford likely would have beaten it out anyway, and he was awarded a single. A walk to B.J. Upton followed, and we had bases loaded with no outs.
Carlos Pena took care of that with a two-run double off the Wall. Delmon Young then hit a slow roller to the usually sure-handed Dustin Pedrioa, but he bobbled the ball away — Young still was given a hit — and Upton scored to make it 4-0, still with no outs.
Pitching coach John Farrell came out for a conference with Dice-K, but the fourth run of the inning came in on Brendan Harris’ sac bunt down the first base line. But Matsuzaka composed himself and got Johnny Gomes to ground out and Dioner Navarro to fly out to center.