Daisuke Matsuzaka looked positively awful again on Saturday night, and got whacked by the lowly, slumping Baltimore Orioles, as he blew a 4-1 lead given to him and the Red Sox went on to lose, 11-5.
He could not control his fastball, and walked in two runs in the third inning. He allowed home runs to those "sluggers" Tike Redman and Scott Moore (both hit their first home runs of 2007), with Moore's being a grand slam. Once again, Daisuke had that one bad inning that cost him the game, as he allowed seven runs in the third before departing. (Jim Palmer tonight pointed out that this was his 8th time this season that he's allowed four or more runs in an inning. Not good.)
Daisuke has been simply terrible since his August 15th start at Fenway against Tampa Bay. Here are the brutal numbers:
@BAL L 2.2 innings, 6 hits, 8 runs, 2 HR, 3 BB, 2 K
TOR W 5.1 innings, 10 hits, 7 runs, 1 HR, 1 BB, 3 K
@ NYY L 6.1 innings, 6 hits, 5 runs, 2 HR, 3 BB, 2 K
@ TAM L 6.0 innings, 2 hits, 2 runs, 1 HR, 1 BB, 8 K
TAM L 6.0 innings, 8 hits, 6 runs, 0 HR, 3 BB, 5 K
That is an absolutely abominable ERA of 9.62 in his last five starts. He was sensational in July and mid-August. But now he has come crashing down to earth, and you have to wonder if he has indeed hit a wall as I suggested after his last start. I really don't think he's hiding an injury, but the workload he's had this season may have finally caught up with him. The Japanese season is shorter, and he had more rest between starts.
So now Terry Francona has a big decision to make. Daisuke's next scheduled start is this coming Friday night against New York at Fenway. Even the Orioles announcers tonight suggested that it maybe time to give him a rest. The off-day this Thursday for the Red Sox could mean that they could move Josh Beckett to start the Yankee series, and also move Curt Schilling and Tim Wakefield up in the rotation.
Daisuke right now does not look like a pitcher ready for the postseason. Watching this performance tonight, I was reminded how shaky Pedro Martinez was going into the 2004 postseason, as he had some lousy starts in September as well. But he wasn't getting hit this hard.
Francona has a tough decision to make going into next weekend. Matsuzaka looks like he needs a rest, and now. The Sox need him for the postseason. He simply can't keep giving them putrid performances like he's been doing the last three weeks.