Boston Red Sox: Matsuzaka gets his chance to put Sox in win column

For the 9,205 fans that showed up at Progressive Field in Cleveland last night to see the Boston Red Sox lose to the hometown Indians, they were greeted not only by bone-chilling temperatures and a stiff breeze, but also by an ice cold Red Sox team struggling to find their way early on in the 2011 season.

While an 0-4 start for the Sox is certainly disheartening, it is not even close to a death knell for the season itself. Yes, the bats have been woefully silent and the pitching far from superb. However, far worse teams got off to similar starts in the past and made the postseason.

Photo credit Keith Allison via Creative Commons license

Tonight, Daisuke Matsuzaka will make his first start of the season, hoping to finally put the Red Sox in the win column. For Dice-K, much like starter Josh Beckett last night, it’s a chance to wipe away the demons of a lost 2010 season, during which he was 9-6 with a 4.69 ERA. While Matsuzaka was marginally better than Beckett last season in terms of numbers, it was still a disappointing result for a man whom is being paid $10 million as a fifth starter.

Matsuzaka was impressive in late spring as he appeared to throw with much better command, something which is of paramount importance to his overall success. Dick-K was the subject of several trade rumors during the spring, and even though Sox’ management was quick to dispel those rumors, Matsuzaka nonetheless has something to prove.

Certainly the pitching hasn’t been the only culprit for the Sox. Last night, they only managed four hits  and have been awful with runners in scoring position. Carl Crawford, moved to the number two hole in the order, continues his struggles, and six of the regulars in the starting lineup are currently hitting below .200 through the first four games.

First baseman Adrian Gonzalez acknowledged that the team has not been patient at the plate.

“We did a really poor job today of being selective and getting good pitches to hit,” Gonzalez told MLB.com. “We’re just going to have to do better.”

While it’s certainly tough to fathom four losses to begin the season, Crawford knows this team is too good to be down for too long.

“We obviously wanted to get that first win in,” said Crawford. “It’s frustrating to go 0-4, especially at the beginning of the year like this. We’ve just got to keep playing. We want to get that first win in.”

The Sox are hoping that first win will open the floodgates.

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