PAWTUCKET, R.I. — Daisuke Matsuzaka’s night is over after 2 2/3 innings and 47 pitches, 29 strikes. Matsuzaka vacilliated between being in full command and being a bit erratic. He hit 92 mph on the stadium radar gun and allowed two hits, both grounders, and walked two while also hitting a batter.
Matsuzaka pitched nothing like he usually does in the first inning — in a good way. He needed only 10 pitches to retire Triple A Toledo in order in the first, throwing only three balls. He struck out the first two batters he faced, throwing just one ball to each hitter, and the third popped to second on a 1-0 count. Matsuzaka, who barely hit the high-80s in Oakland during the outing that convinced the Red Sox he needed to be sent to the disabled list, reached 91 mph on the McCoy Stadium scoreboard and sat at 90.
Matsuzaka labored through the second, loading the bases before recording an out, but he escaped without allowing a run. He needed 23 pitches that inning. He allowed a single through the left side, then walked the first two batters he faced from the stretch. He didn’t throw one pitch 90 mph or more. Pitching coach Rich Sauveur came out for a visit, and Matsuzaka bore down. He got a pop to shallow center, then struck out Dusty Ryan on a 92-mph fastball, his best velocity of the night. Jason Tyner bounced back to Matsuzaka to end the inning.
The grounds crew worked on the mound before Matsuzaka’s third inning, and maybe that was his problem. Matsuzaka struck out the first batters he faced, then ran into some tough luck. He allowed an infield single then nicked a batter with a pitch that was barely a ball on 0-2. That was it for Matsuzaka, who was going to throw roughly 45 pitches or three innings, whatever came first.
In the bottom of the first, Rocco Baldelli grounded to second in his first at bat, and Chris Carter, who began the season in Boston, ripped an RBI double to right. The PawSox lead 1-0.