Believe it or not, Daisuke Matsuzaka's ERA is down under 4.00. Since giving up seven runs to the Yankees in under five innings on May 17, Matsuzaka has given up 23 earned runs over his last 68 innings--good for a 3.04 ERA.
After eight more innings of one run ball tonight, that number has dropped to 2.84, enough to counter his horrible start and leave him at a 3.96 ERA on the season.
Daisuke did exactly what Sox fans have always wanted him to do tonight. He pounded the strike zone, allowed only two walks, induced weak contact, and generally just worked his way systematically through the Indians lineup. The only spot on an otherwise terrific night came on Shin-Soo Choo's solo shot.
The Red Sox offense was quiet to start the night against Indian's rookie Josh Tomlin, who retired the lineup in order with three perfect innings to start the game. But then came the fourth. Marco Scutaro's one-out single broke up the perfect game before walks from Victor Martinez and J.D. Drew loaded the bases for Adrian Beltre with two outs.
Up until tonight, the biggest flaw in Beltre's fantastic season was an inability to hit with the bases loaded, managing a putrid .100/.136/.100 line. With one swing, Beltre undid all that, lifting a fly ball to left field and into the monster seats for a grand slam, putting the Red Sox on top 4-1.
J.D. Drew would add a pair of runs with a bases loaded single in the eighth inning.
Hideki Okajima would bring some drama to the situation, allowing three baserunners while recording only one out in the ninth. Suddenly in a save situation, the Sox turned to Jonathan Papelbon, who closed out the night with a pair of strikeouts, relying once again on his splitter and giving the Sox the 6-2 win.
Having saved a series split against the Indians, the Red Sox head into an all important series in New York tomorrow.