April 12, 2007


Felix Hernandez: King for a day (Larry Stone, 4/12/07, Seattle Times)

With stuff that Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek called "electric," Hernandez extended his season-opening scoreless streak to 17 innings, during which he has yielded just four hits.

Contrasted with Matsuzaka's solid but unspectacular effort in his Fenway unveiling (seven innings, eight hits, three runs), Mariners outfielder Jose Guillen could come to just one conclusion: Felix was, and is, the superior pitcher.

"You can see the big difference between those two guys," he said. "To me, there's no comparison right there. If you know baseball, and saw what was there today, you don't even need to ask that question. That was a great lineup they had on the other side."

But Hernandez toyed with it most of the night — with plenty of help from his defense.

Where Dice-K has the stuff of a Greg Maddux, the King has that of Roger Clemens. That the owners of the Mariners are leaving the latter -- who's just 21 -- in the hands of a manager and GM who are trying to save their jobs is criminal.

Pastime Becomes a Global Phenomenon: From Boston to Japan, Fans Watch Live as Hernandez Upstages Matsuzaka : Mariners 3, Red Sox 0 (Dave Sheinin, 4/12/07, Washington Post)

At Fenway Park on Wednesday night, they crammed into every forest green nook and cranny, huddled in their parkas and clutching cups of hot chocolate. In Japan, where it was Thursday morning, they tuned in over breakfast to glimpse a national icon. Anywhere baseball is loved, fans paid attention to the Boston debut of Japanese sensation Daisuke Matsuzaka. And when it was over, they shuffled home or went off to work or slouched to the corner bar talking about Felix Hernandez.

Matsuzaka was good in the Red Sox' 3-0 loss to the Seattle Mariners, good enough to see why a team would pay $103.1 million for six years of his services, good enough to see why he is a cultural treasure in Japan and a source of endless fascination in Boston. On a night that radiated with playoff-worthy buzz, he retired countryman Ichiro Suzuki four times and delivered seven effective if unspectacular innings, satisfying a sellout crowd of 36,630.

But where Matsuzaka was merely good, Hernandez was brilliant. [...]

The moments leading up to Matsuzaka's first pitch carried all the electricity of a late-October playoff game. In Japan, the anticipation for his duel with Ichiro, who led off the game for the Mariners, was treated on the level of an Ali-Frazier fight. The Sankei Sports daily newspaper planned to have four full pages of coverage, according to senior baseball writer Gaku Tashiro.

Dice-K, somewhat predictably, seemed to lapse in concentration a bit after retiring Ichiro.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 12, 2007 5:56 AM

They can't hurt him much if he keeps throwing 85 pitch shut-outs.

Posted by: jeff at April 12, 2007 6:57 AM

Which is how it happens. You're off by 25 pitches because mesmerized by how he threw. The worst case was, of course, Kerry Wood's 20K game. Hargrove would leave Felix in that long too.

Posted by: oj at April 12, 2007 8:14 AM

110 pitches isn't crazy, but when you're right, you're right. Hargrove and Bavasi shouldn't even have their jobs now. Let's hope Hernandez has some super-durable arm. Coming back this year in good shape was a sign that his head is in the right place.

Posted by: Mike Beversluis at April 12, 2007 10:06 AM

110 pitches in his 2nd start of the season in Boston in April.

Posted by: oj at April 12, 2007 11:49 AM

He should've been out of there as soon as he gave up that single to Nancy.

The M's could've picked someone at random from the stands to get the final 6 outs against the bottom of that Sawx "lineup".

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at April 12, 2007 11:56 AM

Yeah. He should have been taken out of that game in the fifth, when it became obvious that the Sawx batters weren't facing Eastern Division pitching, in order for the Sawx to win what is rightfully theirs. Or better yet, he should be traded to the Sawx who of course would treat him better. (Maybe in return the Mariners will take back Pineiro in a show of gratitude for this great sacrifice being made by the Sawx management.)

So far Matsuzaka has beat up KC, which ain't that hard, and looked ordinary against the Mariners, which takes some effort, but not the good kind, considering how lousy the Mariners are. (And think about what Johjima's 2 hits really mean...) When do the Sawx fans turn on him? July 4th is my guess, about the same time Damnyankees fans revert to normal on a cooled down (but still best SS on the team) A-Rod.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at April 12, 2007 12:42 PM

Pineiro does look better this year than since his breakout year. That's not necessarily just better usage though.

Posted by: oj at April 12, 2007 2:29 PM

Sounds like Dice-K was throwing craps.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at April 12, 2007 6:53 PM