Sunday, September 09, 2007

Game 143: Meltdown

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 5, Baltimore Orioles 11

Hmm...I don't think anyone expected that to happen. Our $100 million import crept one step closer to a .500 season with yesterday's full-on collapse, one of those 8 run on 6 hit on too few innings affairs that goes down about as smooth as a protein shake seasoned with shards of glass. What's even worse is that Matsuzaka is regressing back to Dennis Miles mode from earlier this season, where he fires on all cylinders the whole game - except for that one problem inning where all of the machinery falls apart and he turns into baseball's version of Glass Joe. There were stirrings of the return of Dennis Miles against the Yankees (it's always because of the Yankees, isn't it?), then a full-on relapse on September 3 against Toronto and now last night's mess. Are we seeing the stress of pitching differently to meet the needs of American baseball finally catch up with Dice-K?

The persons of interest in this equation (Matsuzaka, Francona and pitching coach John Farrell) deny any injury or fatigue in the papers and Farrell goes as far as to deflect the issue on Dice-K overthrowing when he gets in trouble, relying on his fastball, which Farrell mentions is still in the mid-90s, to get him out of any bad situations. Hitters aren't fooled, of course and the result is a Dennis-Miles-style escalation.

So that means it's all in his head, right? In fact, doesn't this sound like a situation we saw last year, where Beckett refused to pitch to the instructions of The Captain and gave up a metric ass-ton of home runs as a result? Haven't I made this point before? It sounds like Dice-K isn't hurt, which is great - injuries are a quick solution to a problem, but they have that downside of missed time - but I have to wonder why this problem would reoccur. Why stop listening to your catcher? Could it be the frustration of losing all of those close games in the middle of the summer, where Boston wasn't hitting and two runs was enough to lose the game? I could see that sort of negative stimulus make you work that much harder to make every game perfect so you'll stop losing.