Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Game 8: In the Year 2007, Dice-K Will Kill Ichiro

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 0, Seattle Mariners 3

Robin and I had a great Kill Bill tie-in to this game that we wanted to use in honor of the first Dice-K/Ichiro battle on US soil, which would have been much more appropriate if a.) Matsuzaka had been lights out tonight instead of pretty good and b.) King Felix hadn't stolen the show with a performance well-worth the nickname. However, it would be an absolute crime to waste this particular reference, so here goes:

"I can say without ego - this is my finest pitcher. If you encounter Ichiro on your journey, Ichiro will be cut."

Bad ass.

However, while Dice-K rendered Ichiro hitless with a strikeout over four at-bats, he was not as successful against the rest of the Mariners, who shook off yesterday's loss and the rust of snowed-out Cleveland to muster eight hits and three runs against Boston's starter, jumping on hanging breaking pitches to string together bunches of singles and doubles. Not that Dice-K had a bad start - three runs on any other day would have been more than enough to keep the game in hand for the offense.

Unfortunately for the Sox, what we had tonight was a classic pitching match up that may become even more storied as the years pass, as Felix Hernandez spun a complete game, one hit, two walk gem that saw sterling backing efforts from his defense and only four balls leave the infield. The no-no lasted into the eighth inning, when J.D. Drew (really starting to like that J.D. Drew) extended his 2007 hitting streak to eight games with a single. It was a momentary gasp against a pitcher who's performing far above already lofty expectations in the early going; in seventeen innings, King Felix has given up no runs on four hits and shut down potent offenses in Oakland and Boston. In other words, we should be grateful for that one hit.

In related news, I've discovered I feel physical pain whenever someone scores a run against Matsuzaka - a stabbing pain in my chest I associate with feelings of being had and watching the Red Sox (feelings that are sometimes associated). Part of the problem, I think, is that when it comes to Dice-K, things are still so uncertain - and will be for the next year, at least. Say (just say) he wins 20 games this year - it's his first year out and his first time through the league. He's got the history of Hideo Nomo to get past; he may be a more talented pitcher than Nomo, but there's still the chance the magic, if it lasts, will only last for one season. Hence the stabbing feeling of being had. It's a tough life, being a dedicated fan.