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Home » May 2008 Game CommentsMay 2008 » Shikyū [四球]

Shikyū [四球]

Game 34: May 5, 2008
WinRed Sox 6 W: Daisuke Matsuzaka (5-0)
H: Craig Hansen (1)
H: Hideki Okajima (6)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (10)
21-13, 4 game winning streak
Tigers 3 L: Jeremy Bonderman (2-3) 14-19, 4 game losing streak
Highlights: Matsuzaka issued a career-high eight walks in last night’s game. The Japanese word for base on balls is shikyū [四球], which translates literally to four balls. Shi is a homonym for the Japanese word for death; in fact, the word for dead ball is pronounced the same but uses the characters 死球. One would think with so many walks that Matsuzaka wouldn’t come out ahead, but he notched his fifth win to continue to lead the Red Sox staff in victories

Perhaps Daisuke Matsuzaka persevered because was Boys’ Day(端午の節句, tango no sekku). On Boys’ Day windsocks in the shape of carp (鯉のぼり, koinobori) are displayed. Koi means carp in Japanese and is also a homonym for the Japanese word for love. When the carp is portrayed swimming upstream, however, it calls to mind the Chinese myth of a carp swimming up the Yellow River jumping over the Dragon Gate to be transformed into a dragon. So inspired by this imagery the Japanese added it to their own collection of mythos.

To celebrate the day Japanese people also bring out dolls of Japanese folk hero Kintarō (金太郎, Golden Boy), who as a child grew up with animals and rode a bear into battle instead of a horse. Kintarō is also depicted on the back of the upriver-bearing carp, a doubly auspicious icon.

So perhaps it was the image of the ever-striving carp and the brave warrior that spurred on Matsuzaka on the mound last night. In the face of his own self-created adversity the pitcher persisted, only allowing one of the eight walks he relinquished to cross home plate.

Craig Hansen wasn’t so lucky with the batters he walked. Maddeningly he walked Miguel Cabrera and Gary Sheffield consecutively to load the bases immediately after inducing a double play. The abrupt lack of location prompted Terry Francona to call for Hideki Okajima.

Pinch hitter Marcus Thames replaced Matthew Joyce (who made his major league debut) and dropped a single into left. Manny Ramirez flaunted his barehanded catching technique but the time he saved by not gloving the ball did not stop two runs from scoring.

Boston had already built a lead with double and home run combos. Ramirez led off the second with a stand-up double to the right center gap and was driven in by Mike Lowell’s four-bagger into the bullpens. The visitors repeated the one-two punch in the fourth inning with Lowell sending a double down the third base line and Kevin Youkilis dipping into the homer goody jar that is the bullpen in left.

Encouragingly David Ortiz was responsible for the remaining two runs. He singled to the opposite field to drive in Dustin Pedroia and pulled a homer into right field, at last demonstrating his power to all quarters.

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