Matsuzaka may be skipped for Yankees series

May, 9, 2011
BOSTON—Red Sox manager Terry Francona is holding off on announcing the team’s pitching plans for this weekend’s Yankees series, saying he preferred to wait a day.

But Daisuke Matsuzaka, who recovered from a shaky first inning to go six innings and record the win in Sunday’s 9-5 victory over the Minnesota Twins, looms as the most likely candidate to be bumped for the three-game set that begins Friday in the Bronx.

Josh Beckett is pitching Monday night in the finale of the four-game set against the Twins, the Sox having won the last two after being beaten 9-2 by Minnesota Friday night. Jon Lester is scheduled to pitch Tuesday night in Toronto against the Blue Jays, followed by John Lackey on Wednesday.

The Sox have Thursday off, their only scheduled day off in the month. Clay Buchholz, who beat the Twins Saturday despite a lengthy rain delay and probably had his best stuff this season, figures to pitch the series opener Friday night in Yankee Stadium. Beckett and Lester could then follow on regular rest, which means Francona has lined up his best pitchers for the Yankees.

That means Matsuzaka would have seven days’ between starts, assuming he is given the ball a week from Monday in Fenway Park, when the Sox face the Baltimore Orioles. Lackey would then have an extra days’ rest (five days) on Tuesday night, with Buchholz, Beckett, Lester then staying on regular rest.

If that is how Francona is thinking, he wasn’t sharing Monday afternoon, saying he wanted to talk to the principals before he said anything.

Other than Lester, who is 6-1 with a 3.28 ERA, Sox starters do not have terribly impressive numbers against the Yankees. Last season, the Yankees beat up on Beckett, who was 1-2 with a 10.04 ERA in five starts, giving up 9 home runs in those 5 starts. The Yanks posted a .339/.418./627/1.045 batting line against Beckett, who also aggravated a back condition when he slipped on a wet mound in Yankee Stadium last May and missed 57 games.

But on April 10 of this year, Beckett, in his second start of the season, dominated the Yankees, going eight scoreless innings, allowing just two hits, and striking out 10 in a 4-0 win.

Buchholz is 1-3 with a 6.25 ERA against the Yankees, and lasted just 3 2/3 innings, giving up 8 hits and 4 runs, in a 9-4 loss to the Yankees in Fenway Park on April 9. The Yankees cuffed Buchholz around in his first Yankee Stadium start last season, a 14-3 loss on May 8 in which he gave up 5 runs on 9 hits and 5 walks in 5 innings), but Buchholz rebounded in August to go 7 1/3 innings, allowing 9 hits and 3 earned runs, in a 6-3 win.

Matsuzaka is 3-3 with a 5.52 ERA, but held the Bombers to four hits and two runs in 8 innings in his last outing against them on Sept. 26.

Here’s the lineup for Monday night:
Jacoby Ellsbury, cf
Dustin Pedroia, 2b
Adrian Gonzalez, 1b
Kevin Youkilis, 3b
David Ortiz, DH
J.D. Drew, rf
Jed Lowrie, ss
Carl Crawford, lf
Jason Varitek, c
Josh Beckett, rhp

Gordon Edes

ESPN Staff Writer



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