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Home » July 2007 Game CommentsJuly 2007 » Gambatte [頑張って]

Gambatte [頑張って]

Game 90: July 14, 2007
Blue Jays 4 L: Dustin McGowan (5-5) 44-46, 1 game losing streak
13-11-4 series record
WinRed Sox 9 W: Daisuke Matsuzaka (11-6) 55-35, 1 game winning streak
19-8-3 series record
Highlights: The first kanji 頑 means stubborn, foolish, or firmly and the second 張 translates to lengthen or stretch. The final two characters transform the word into a te verb form which has no tense of its own and is used to join the word to other verbs or words, a common example being kudasai (please) to turn the phrase into a polite request. Gambatte has become a set expression that means “Don’t give up” or “Hang in there.” Matsuzaka-senshu gambatte! Manny Delcarmen struck out four in two innings and Hideki Okajima finished frames to assure at least a split in this four-game series.

Despite the second rough outing in a row, Daisuke Matsuzaka persevered to tally his eleventh win of 2007. In each of his six innings of toil he had at least one baserunner and he struck out only two. Out of sync with his windup, he even resorted to pitching from the stretch with no men on base. The two free passes he turned over to Lyle Overbay in the second and Alex Rios in the third were not costly. Instead, the Blue Jays cashed in with a solo shot by Troy Glaus in the fourth and a two-run jack to by Aaron Hill (last night’s honorary Frank Catalanotto clone) to tie in the sixth.

The local nine blasted circuit clouts of their own: David Ortiz with shot to the visitors’ bullpen in the first, Eric Hinske’s shout out to his peeps in the home pen, and the two-run go-ahead jack in the bottom of the sixth by Jason Varitek. Not only did Varitek guide his charge through a difficult game but he secured the win for his starter.

Of course the Boston media will be abuzz about Matsuzaka’s downward trend. It’s not unreasonable to expect this for several reasons. June was an outstanding month for the rookie starter. His 2-2 record isn’t indicative of it but his ERA was 1.59 and 42 strikeouts show otherwise. In his first two months he compiled ERAs of 4.35 and 5.22 respectively, so some regression was to be expected.

The rigors of an MLB-style rotation and facing more powerful and patients hitters will also take its inevitable toll. Furthermore, the more he pitches, the better looks advanced scouts will get. With that knowledge, his vulnerabilities will be exploited.

The real Matsuzaka probably falls somewhere between the June version and May’s. What remains to be seen is how with his myriad of pitches he adjusts to the second half of the season.

Having a formidable offense that seems to have found its stride may give Matsuzaka and the other starters the breathing room required. Not only did the team knock out homers but also singles (a barrage of one-baggers in the sixth), doubles (a ground-rule arc by Ortiz that just missed being a souvenir in the third), and even triples (in the case of Coco Crisp, a deep fly ball into center in the third that baffled Gold Glover Vernon Wells).

John Gibbons, as I noted in his ejection in the first game, does not have a flair for the dramatic on field; it seems most of his shenanigans happen in the clubhouse (just ask Shea Hillenbrand or Ted Lilly). Troy Glaus was flabbergasted that Gibbons did not even flinch when he was called out at second by Laz Diaz in the second inning.

Crisp corralled the tin-rattling fly off the wall barehanded, à la Manny, and relayed to Dustin Pedroia before Glaus was into the keystone sack. It was the oddest sound, first a clank and then a creaking, as if the impact awakened old ghosts in the wall.

Replays showed that although the Blue Jays third baseman was there after the ball he eluded Pedroia’s tag. Discretion being the better part of valor, MLB.com did not include the top of this frame in their condensed game package available online.

A note on coiffure to Dustin McGowan: there are at most two men who can successfully wear mutton chops. One went 2-for-3 against you last night. The other is not you.


OK, I legitimately wish I had thought of the mutton chops line. That is dynamite. Although I have to ask, who's the other successful mutton chops wearer? And if Gary Sheffield started sporting a set of chops, would any of us have the balls to tell him to shave them off?

David Ortiz. He has sort of a modified mutton chop look going now.

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