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Home » May 2010 Game CommentsMay 2010 » One-Hit Wonder

One-Hit Wonder

Daisuke Matsuzaka must be walking on sunshine after his near no-hitter, an eight-inning gem in which he only surrendered a handful of baserunners. The pitcher allowed the pair of Placido Polanco and Raul Ibanez to reach first base twice on bases on balls but also struck out five.

Had Matsuzaka had a 無安打 [Japanese for no-hitter, pronounced muanda], it would have been the fifth no-hitter caught by Jason Varitek. Instead, it was his seventh one-hitter. There is something about Varitek’s ability to bring out the best in his pitching, but that value was attenuated over recent seasons by his offensive decline. The balance between his backstop brilliance and part-time position has finally been struck in 2010. He got knocked down, but he got up again.

The most memorable Red Sox one-hitter was Pedro Martinez’s 17-strikeout domination of the Yankees on September 10, 1999. Three years ago on June 7 Curt Schilling carried a no-hitter into the ninth inning. One out away from history he shook off Varitek and Shannon Stewart rapped a single to right. Jon Lester one-hit the Royals on July 18, 2006 and would battle back from cancer to no-hit Kansas City in 2008.

In the first inning Dustin Pedroia made a superb leaping grab of Chase Utley’s line drive that seemed destined for the right-center gap. Pedroia reached into his glove before he even landed; those crucial milliseconds enabled him to double Polanco off first. That play’s name should be Mickey it was so fine.

Polanco led off the fourth with a walk and Utley barely missed a home run to left. Jeremy Hermida tracked the ball mere inches from the wall to make the catch. It was too early to do the safety dance, but it preserved the visitors’ one-run lead and held the Phillies 無得点 [pronounced mutokuten, scoreless in Japanese].

[One might think this would be the perfect place to mention the Vapors, but that would be as tasteless as Fox turning its cameras on the Philadelphia fans stereotypically bowing.]

Terry Francona replaced David Ortiz with Kevin Youkilis at first in the eighth, but the designated hitter shone defensively in the sixth. Ortiz circled to scoop up Shane Victorino’s grounder and tossed to first just in time for Matsuzaka to glove the ball and tap the bag before the runner. Don’t touch first please, I cannot stand the way you tease.

Somewhat lost in the glare of the potential no-hitter was Matsuzaka’s all-around performance. He executed a perfect sacrifice bunt in the fifth with Ryan Howard playing up the first base line. Marco Scutaro was poised on second trying to get 90 feet closer to home as Matsuzaka aimed the ball towards the left side of the infield. Kyle Kendrick rushed to gather the ball but his only play was to first. The trio of J.D. Drew, Ortiz, and Adrian Beltre followed up with two-out RBI hits for a four-run canto. The starter also fielded his position well, particularly when he snared Jayson Werth’s ringing comebacker to close the seventh. Matsuzaka led off the third with a bloop single to shallow center.

That blooper was not unlike the hit that shattered Matsuzaka’s no-hit bid. Ibanez led off the eighth frame with his second base on balls in the game. Carlos Ruiz fired the ball hard to third, but Beltre showed why he garnered two Gold Gloves, snagging the ball, picking himself up off the turf, and hurling across the diamond to double Ibanez off first. Juan Castro lifted the ball over the infield, just high enough, just fast enough, and at just the right trajectory to elude Scutaro’s reach.

In this game of inches the Red Sox continue to inch up the standings. Everyone’s a superhero. Everyone’s a Captain Kirk.

Game 44: May 22, 2010
WinRed Sox
5W: Daisuke Matsuzaka (3-1)
2B: Adrian Beltre – 2 (13), Marco Scutaro (7), David Ortiz (7)
0L: Kyle Kendrick (2-2)
No extra base hits

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