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Daisuke Matsuzaka returns to the Red Sox today for their first interleague matchup. Opposing him for the Mets is NL Cy Young runner up Johan Santana. Johan brings a sparking 1.36 ERA into the game to go with a 5-2 record that has seen him take two losses without giving up an earned run. Matsuzaka had just two starts before going on the disabled list, giving up 9 runs in 6.1 innings. Daisuke had three strong starts at AAA Pawtucket, allowing just two runs for a 1.54 ERA. He also struck out 14 batters in just over 11 innings with the Pawsox.
Brad Penny bought some time with a strong start in his last appearance, but its only a matter of time before he gets dumped – just ask Alyssa Milano. Clay Buchholz (1.60 ERA) and Michael Bowden (0.86 ERA) have been the most dominant pitching duo in the minors. Both are making a strong push for Penny’s rotation spot. Also waiting in the wings is the ageless John Smoltz, who threw three shutout innings yesterday.
Watching Jon Lester is the biggest mystery of all. The guy is still striking out hitters at a very strong pace (9.79/9 ip), yet he’s also getting pounded (68 hits in 53.1 ip). For now it looks like bad luck, but if his ERA doesn’t start coming down Boston has to be worried. One player they’re no longer worried about is ace Josh Beckett, who hasn’t allowed more than three runs in his last three starts. His velocity looks to be back, as he was sitting in the 93-95 range against Seattle. He’ll pitch Saturday against the balkmeister Mike Pelfrey.
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