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Matsuzaka Vaults Red Sox Into 1st at Break; Lin MVP at Futures Game

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Matsuzaka Vaults Red Sox Into 1st at Break; Lin MVP at Futures Game
With first place on the line at Fenway Park yesterday afternoon, Daisuke Matsuzaka closed out a sublime first half of the season. Despite battling the walks yet again, Matsuzaka went 6 solid innings and ducked in and out of trouble like he usually does.

Matsuzaka's final line was 6 innings giving up 4 hits, walking 5, hitting one batter and striking out 7 over 115 pitches. Using mostly his live fastball and a biting slider, Matsuzaka also has only given up one run in his last 4 starts, leading all Red Sox starters with a 2.65 ERA.

The bullpen preserved the win, with Hideki Okajima and Manny Delcarmen holding the lead for Jonathan Papelbon, who, despite giving up 3 hits and a run, recorded his 100th save.

Matsuzaka later said, "For me, I think what matters is that the team gets the win. Also, going five or six innings without any earned runs isn't that bad, is it? I thought that my strength out there was good today."

A criticism of Matsuzaka is that he's walked too many people, and he does lead the league in walks with 57 (he walked 80 all last year), but opponents are batting only .202 against him, which is 3rd in the league behind Justin Duchscherer of the Oakland A's (.186), and Shawn Marcum of the Toronto Blue Jays (.198), and his 2.65 ERA is tied for 5th in all of MLB.

If you ask me, these stats sort of mirror what Matsuzaka did his first 3 years with Seibu (at least the walks number).

In other Asian baseball news, 19-year old Red Sox Taiwanese prospect Lin Che-Hsuan won the MVP of the All-Star Futures Game at Yankee Stadium yesterday. He went 2-for-2 with a 2-run home run to lead the World team over Team USA, 3-0. Lin, who was signed last year, is with the Class A Greenville Drive with former independent Japanese pitcher, Terumasa Matsuo.
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