Mariners 4, Red Sox 3

Sox tumble in 9th

Matsuzaka lifted because of 'fatigue'

Dice-K's postgame comments

Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, who was pulled in the fifth inning with shoulder fatigue, said he felt a little bit off last night in Seattle.
Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / May 28, 2008

SEATTLE - There was mystery in the air in Seattle, as the night crept on and the score stayed tied. With the cause still unknown as to why starter Daisuke Matsuzaka left the game in the fifth inning, and the outcome still in doubt, the Red Sox headed into the ninth trying to take their second game in the Pacific Northwest.

But it wouldn't happen. With Mike Timlin on the mound in the unfriendly confines of Safeco Field - he was 0-5 with a 10.13 ERA here - and the game tied at 3, the Mariners got their first runner on when Wladimir Balentien singled to short. He was bunted to second and took third on a ground out. Ichiro Suzuki (two hits, two runs) came to the plate and was intentionally walked. That left Jose Lopez.

And he came through, smashing a ball down the left-field line to bring Balentien home and give the Mariners a 4-3 win in front of 30,758.

As for Matsuzaka, the Red Sox were identifying his problem as right shoulder fatigue.

"He felt some, I guess, fatigue is the right word," manager Terry Francona said. "We're not going to run somebody out there when we think [there's something wrong]. It's too long of a season. I don't think he really wanted to give the ball up."

Matsuzaka was examined by med ical personnel, and will be further examined today.

"Even before I went up on the mound, I felt that things were a little bit off in the bullpen," Matsuzaka said, through interpreter Masa Hoshino. "I wouldn't go so far as to call it discomfort, but I wasn't at my best even before going into the game.

"After pitching the third inning, I definitely felt that there was something wrong. At that point, I had a conversation with the coaching staff."

"We knew in between innings," Francona said. "I knew that we wanted to keep an eye on him."

Both Francona and Matsuzaka said they did not know if the pitcher would be able to make his next start.

As Matsuzaka worked to get ready for the bottom of the fifth inning, he put a hand to his back after the second warm-up. Catcher Kevin Cash jogged out to the mound to meet him, with Francona and the training staff following quickly. It was not long before Matsuzaka was walking off the field just 65 pitches (and no walks) into his outing.

Though the specter of Suzuki in the batter's box wasn't a likely contributor, it couldn't have helped. Suzuki had already hit a double and a single, and the Mariners were ahead, 3-0. David Aardsma relieved Matsuzaka, leaving five innings for the bullpen to fill.

That wasn't the only early exit for the Red Sox. Both Julio Lugo and Francona were ejected just three batters later. After Aardsma had gotten two outs and walked Jose Vidro, Lugo apparently started bugging third base umpire Angel Hernandez about a checked swing he had called on a 1-and-0 pitch to Raul Ibanez.

Lugo was ejected quickly, and then it was Francona's turn. Extremely animated, and right in Hernandez's face, Francona protested the ejection. And then got the rest of the night off, the first time the manager has been tossed this season.

The Sox had two hits off Seattle starter Miguel Batista in the first five innings, but an error by shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt turned things in their favor in the sixth. With Dustin Pedroia on via Betancourt's boot, David Ortiz followed with a single to right.

Up came Manny Ramírez. And out went home run No. 499.

His three-run blast found the seats in right field and tied the score.

Ramírez followed that up with an outfield assist in the next inning, gunning down Adrian Beltre at third on Kenji Johjima's single.

The game was an adventure from the start. Matsuzaka was allowing too many runners and too many chances, and unlike in most of his starts this season, it caught up to him.

After a leadoff double in the first by Suzuki, Lopez attempted to bunt him to third base. Matsuzaka fielded it and threw to third, but it was late, leaving men on first and third, the scoring going as a fielder's choice. Suzuki scored on Vidro's fielder's choice, and Vidro came home on a double by Ibanez, as Coco Crisp dived but missed the ball.

The Mariners added a run, this one unearned, in the third when Suzuki scored again after a single and stolen base. He went to third on a throwing error by Sean Casey, then came home on Ibanez's fielder's choice.

In the eighth, Ramírez again stepped to the plate with Pedroia on second and Ortiz on first - the same situation in which he had found himself two innings earlier. But this time the result was a big cut and a big strikeout, the fastball by reliever Brendan Morrow registering 99 miles per hour.

Add a strikeout on a 98-m.p.h. fastball for Mike Lowell and a fly out to right field for J.D. Drew and the eighth was a wasted opportunity for the Red Sox.

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