Another day, another 2-1 victory for the Red Sox, who now sit at 11-8 in the Grapefruit League.
After a number of poor performances to start the spring, Daisuke Matsuzaka was in serious need of a bounce-back game. Facing off against the hardest competition he'd seen so far in spring--a Major League Detroit lineup--Matsuzaka had just that.
Allowing only a pair of singles to Magglio Ordonez and Victor Martinez, who also added a walk against his old team, Daisuke held the Tigers scoreless through five innings. With six ground outs and five strikeouts, it wasn't just a matter of luck or defense, either; Matsuzaka was just plain dominant.
Justin Verlander, however, wasn't much worse. In fact, for the most part, the Red Sox' offense was kept quiet by the Tigers' staff. The difference came with just two swings. The first came from Jacoby Ellsbury in the fourth, going deep for the second time this spring. After a disappointing, injury-riddled 2010, it's been quite the spring for Jacoby Ellsbury, with an average over .400 and a remarkably high slugging percentage for the typically powerless center fielder.
The second swing came in extra innings, but to get there, the Tigers had to tie things up. They did that, as was the trend for this game, with a solo shot. This one came from the bat of--who else--Miguel Cabrera in the seventh inning off of Matt Albers.
With Michael Bowden, Brandon Duckworth, Fu-Te Ni and Al Alburquerque holding the tie, the Sox found themselves in extra innings once again. The tie didn't survive long after that, though. Leading off the tenth, Darnell McDonald welcomed Brad Thomas to the game with a game winning home run to left field.
Daisuke Matsuzaka: It's nice to see Matsuzaka have some success after a poor start to spring. As much as many of us hate to admit it, the Sox do need Daisuke to some extent, both to keep their starting pitching deep, and allow them the luxury to bring Felix Doubront along at their pace.
Jacoby Ellsbury: I already covered it above, but is anyone outperforming expectations more in spring than Ellsbury? He earned a lot of criticism--fairly or not--with his injury last year. If he improves on his previous offensive numbers as you might expect him to do at his age, he could well silence the critics with a big value season.
Darnell McDonald: Game winning homers don't hurt.
Victor Martinez: Two times on the basepa--Oh, right, nevermind.