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Cardinals Demolish Red Sox, Lend Clarity To Bullpen Situation

How's that for a silver lining?

The Red Sox were destroyed Sunday. Ruined. Killed. Wrecked. Decimated. Et-and-his-famous-cetera.

The Cardinals scored in all of one inning, and ended up on the right side of a 10-3 game. With Daisuke Matsuzaka on the mound to start the game, you might be rushing to blame the most hated best fifth starter in the league. Not so fast! Matsuzaka was actually quite good. 

Not only did Daisuke start the game with five scoreless innings, but he did it in exactly the way he usually doesn't--quickly and efficiently. In fact, going into the sixth inning, Daisuke had allowed just two hits and a walk, and was sporting the sort of pitch count that would normally make a complete game a very real possibility.

Then came the sixth inning. So how did Daisuke mess it all up? Well, he walked Albert Pujols with two outs, and then gave up a double to Matt Holliday. Not exactly a crime against pitching. Oh, no, that came from Andrew Miller and Scott Atchison.

Miller came into the game with just one out to record. Two walks and four (admittedly, partially unlucky) singles later, and he left with the sixth inning still in process. Enter Scott Atchison. With the Pujols - Holliday combo on the horizon once again, typically you'd want to challenge no. 2 hitter Allen Craig, who few of us have really heard of.

Cue the walk. And then cue the Pujols - Holliday doubles. Exit, stage right with a 10-0 deficit after finally recording the last out.

Yes, the Sox scored three runs somewhere in between that nightmare inning and the merciful end of the game, but that's not what this debacle was all about. So with apology to the few Red Sox who did well offensively, we'll stick with the pitching for now.

The Good

Daisuke Matsuzaka: I pretty much covered Daisuke earlier, but just to add some detail, it was all about the fastball. He spotted it excellently, if with a bit of help from a wide strike zone, and hit 96 on the gun for the second time this spring--a number that had eluded him since '08. He's got the momentum he needs. The Red Sox just have to hope he keeps it up.

Dennys Reyes: With Andrew Miller having reinforced the expectation that he's out of the discussion to start the year with the team, Reyes reinforced the idea that he should be one of the frontrunners to do so. He allowed a double, but recorded two strikeouts and a ground out in his inning of work.

The Bad

Scott Atchison: To be fair to Atchison, I think the quality--or lack thereof--of his performance will be exaggerated based on the inning it was a part of. The walk to Craig was bad. Doubles to Pujols and Holliday, while not good, can kind of be expected. Still, the problem with Atchison this spring is that he's been "not good" too often. It's seeming more and more likely that he starts the year in a Pawtucket uniform.

The Ugly

Andrew Miller: The line sums it up well enough. 0+ IP, 4 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 0 K