One night after Josh Beckett excited the Red Sox and their fanbase with a tremendous start against the Yankees, Daisuke Matsuzaka let the air out, single-handedly revitalizing a Tampa Bay offense that had spent the first nine games of the season at the bottom of the league.
How did Daisuke work his miracles? A steady diet of straight fastballs and hanging off-speed offerings, all of them right down the middle of the plate.
In the first inning this led to not only some uncharacteristically quick outs, but also a very quick home run off the bat of Johnny Damon, perhaps dividing the boos he had heard walking to the plate between himself and the man on the mound.
At least, though, that had provided outs. In the second inning, Matsuzaka decided to leave that part behind. Ben Zobrist's leadoff double started a chain of seven straight batters who would reach without recording an out, the sixth of whom--Sam Fuld--launched a two-run homer, capping off a six run inning to give the Rays a 7-0 lead.
With Tim Wakefield in the game, the scoring slowed down, but didn't stop. After adding another run in both the fourth and fifth innings, the Rays chased Wakefield from the game with a three-run sixth. Finally, the Rays were quieted temporarily, as Aceves picked up eight straight outs, striking out two men in the process.
Offensively, the Sox almost had enough individual firepower to get back in the game, picking up ten hits and seven walks. Carl Crawford had two hits, Jacoby Ellsbury hit his second homer of the season, and the most unlikely combination of triples in the history of the game came off the bats of David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez. But once again it was a lack of timely hits that kept them to just five runs, stranding 11 men on 2-for-12 hitting with runners in scoring position. A four run explosion off ninth inning pitcher Dan Wheeler served only to add insult to injury.