One week after allowing seven runs in two innings of one of the worst starts of his five-year career with the Red Sox, Matsuzaka was simply dazzling in the series finale against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park.
The right-hander yielded only one hit, a first-inning single by Jose Bautista, walked only one and struck out three in seven economical innings of a 9-1 victory in the annual Patriots' Day matinee.
It marked the third consecutive stellar start for the Red Sox, who have won three straight games for the first time this season.
Beckett, Lester and Matsuzaka allowed a total of two runs in 20 innings, a performance that Blue Jays' manager John Farrell would have loved over the last four seasons when he served as Red Sox pitching coach.
For Matsuzaka, the performance silenced critics who had been calling for his removal from the rotation after only two starts. He halved his ERA from 12.86 to 6.43 and posted only his third start of at least seven shutout innings since the start of the 2009 season.
Consider this reversal of fortune: Over his first two starts, Matsuzaka allowed 10 runs on 14 hits and five walks in seven innings. In seven scoreless innings against the Blue Jays, he gave up one hit.
What accounted for the stark difference?
"I know it sounds like a broken record, but really his location (was key)," pitching coach Curt Young said. "He had pretty decent stuff the other night, just in the middle of the plate, so I thought he brought that same stuff to the game today and same aggressive approach.
"Not going to get behind in the count and I think that was his goal again today. To be ahead in the count, get a lot of early action. It was really how it looked. A low pitch count, a lot of strikes and a lot of good action out of him."
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