If the Sox had the lead at the end of Game 7 last night, Daisuke Matsuzaka, not Jonathan Papelbon, may have been on the mound to close out the ALCS for Boston.
According to Sankei Sports today, Matsuzaka told Japanese reporters that he had been told to be ready to close Game 7, not just pitch in relief out of the bullpen, because Papelbon was “pretty sore” from pitching in Game 5 and 6.
“I was told that it may come to up to me at the end, in the tight [closing] situation,” Matsuzaka said. “I would have welcomed such a challenge.”
According to a report on CBSSports.com, it would have been Matsuzaka’s first appearance out of the bullpen since 2004, when he pitched in relief for Seibu in Game 7 of the Japan Series.
The Globe’s Daigo Fujiwara contributed to this report.