With the Sox’s season on the line and a sweep of the New York Yankees at stake, Matsuzaka worked eight strong innings, allowing only two runs on four hits with one walk and seven strikeouts.
Unfortunately for Boston, closer Jonathan Papelbon had his eighth blown save of the season, and fellow reliever Hideki Okajima issued a bases-loaded walk in the 10th inning as the Yankees won 4-3 in 10 innings at Yankee Stadium.
"When I fell behind 3-1, I tried to be really fine with my location," Okajima said of the game's last pitch, to New York's Juan Miranda. "I tried to find my spot, but it sailed on me a little. I’m disappointed.
"It’s the bottom of the inning in extra innings. I went into the game knowing it was all or nothing. Daisuke had pitched really well. I wish I could have followed that up."
Matsuzaka, who entered his 24th start of the season with a 9-6 record and a 4.86 ERA, did pitch well. It’s been an uneven season for the right-hander, but he kept the Yankee batters off balance for 6 1/3 innings. Then Alex Rodriguez crushed an opposite-field two-run homer to give New York a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the seventh inning.
“In my mind, I was thinking of the strikeout pitch that I threw him in his first at-bat,” said Matsuzaka. “I didn’t think that pitch on the 0-2 was in that terrible of a spot, but he put a good swing on it. I also thought to myself that it’s a good ballpark if you’re a hitter.”
Other than that one mistake, Matsuzaka was solid.
“Daisuke came out and threw the ball great,” said Red Sox catcher Victor Martinez. “He really gave us a great chance to win the ballgame. It was a great game from both sides. Somebody has to lose. That’s it.”
Matsuzaka has thrown only one complete game in his career in Boston, and he was told if the game was tied going into the ninth inning that he would be back on the mound even though his pitch count had reached 110.
“Yeah it’s disappointing,” Matsuzaka said of the loss. “And I say this all the time, but the important thing is for the team to get the win.
“I say this all the time too; it’s not how well or how poorly I pitch. At the end of the day, it’s whether the team gets the win. We couldn’t pull it off today.”