By Jason Fukao
7 innings, 6 hits, 1 ER, 1 BB, 10 K, 1.29 ERA, 1.00 WHIP
A pretty impressive performance for any pitcher, wouldn’t you say?
Daisuke Matsuzaka did not disappoint in his major league debut Thursday afternoon. He moved swiftly down the lineup, changing speeds and keeping players, coaches and fans on their seats to see if the mystical gyroball would appear. Sadly, it never did. Or did it…
Dice-K’s performance will probably dominate SportsCenter tonight and Friday morning, as the baseball world was highly anticipating his coming-out party. And it was a darn good party, indeed. 10 Ks in seven innings? That is remarkable. One earned run and only one walk? Tantalizing. Being the winning pitcher? Even better. The Boston Red Sox could not have hoped for a better outing from their $103 million pitcher, especially with his recent control struggles during spring training. Those doubts will mostly be put down after this showing, but I am still skeptical. Here are some things to consider before you name your firstborn “Dice-K”:
First, it is only one outing. What can we say about any pitcher or player after one game? Yes it was very impressive, but there are still 158 games to be played. For Dice-K, if he stays healthy he can expect about 25-30 more starts, but don’t expect performances like this every start.
Second, it was the Kansas City Royals. That’s all I have to say about that.
Third, like I said in my previous article on Dice-K, he is going to have performances like this. Pitchers always have the advantage when the batter has not faced them before. This holds true, especially when facing teams with young and inexperienced lineups (i.e. the Royals). Equally, he will have horrific outings as well. Wait until he faces teams with an explosive offense like the New York Yankees or the Chicago White Sox. If he puts up numbers like he did tonight against those teams, then sign me up for a ride on the bandwagon.
Nonetheless, I am excited for the guy. Coming to a new country with a new language, new culture and new style of baseball cannot be an easy adjustment for athletes. Having a strong debut is something that is really important for any new player, whether it be a rookie or seasoned veteran from another league. Even with his dominating stuff, I am sure his stomach was filled with butterflies caused by tons of wary Sox fans and the Japanese media following his every move, and I am sure Thursday’s performance also calmed the nerves of some BoSox executives.
It will be exciting to see how he does from now on. Sadly, there might be an unfair expectation put on him with some perceiving that Dice-K can only go up from this debut outing. Next up will be Ichiro Suzuki, conveniently, and a much more dangerous offense in the Seattle Mariners next Tuesday at Fenway Park in front of the hometown fans. At least Dice-K can count on having no less than three strikeouts in his next outing. Strikeout king Richie Sexson will be there to kill some flies.
Image courtesy of Getty Images.