KANSAS CITY--Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka made his long awaited debut Thursday against the Kansas City Royals, and he did not disappoint. The 26-year-old allowed one run over seven innings, dazzling the Royals with his pinpoint control and baffling assortment of pitches, including a mysterious “change up.”
“Well I think I saw that crazy pitch everyone’s been talking about,” said third baseman Alex Gordon. “I don’t even know how to explain it except that it went slower than the other pitches and it totally threw my timing off. Like, he would throw a fastball, and then another fastball, and then all of a sudden the next pitch is just floating up there. Thank God we don’t have to face him again for a while. I’ve had enough of that crazy, exotic, Japanese stuff.”
Rightfielder Mark Teahen struck out twice against Matsuzaka and attributed both strike-outs to the mind-boggling Change of Speed pitch.
“That’s a powerful weapon he has right there,” said Teahen. “It’s probably going to take a long time for hitters to figure it out. I remember the first time I saw it, I was all geared up for a fastball, then all of a sudden he threw a fastball, but it was a slow kind of fastball. I took a swing at it and it just wasn’t there. I immediately told the umpire to check the ball, but he said it was clean, so I guess that means he’s using some kind of invisible Japanese gunk to make his fastballs go slower.”
It seems that every batter has their own story about Dice-K’s mysterious pitch. First baseman Ryan Shealy believes it must have been an optical illusion, since it clearly defied the laws of physics.
“I honestly think it was some kind of weird optical illusion,” said Shealy. “Have you ever seen that David Blaine guy? You know how he looks like he’s levitating but he’s really not? It’s like that. It’s called ‘sleight of hand.’ Dice-K obviously did something weird to divert us and then somehow snuck up to the catcher and handed him the ball. Although I have to say that I watched both my at-bats in slow motion and didn’t see him do anything unusual. So maybe I’m just not that good at hitting.”
Since Matsuzaka’s arrival in the U.S., rumors have swirled about his repertoire of so-called exotic pitches, but the Red Sox have downplayed those rumors.
“No, it was just good control of all his pitches and a helluva lot of poise,” said catcher Jason Varitek. “I’m not going to get into what he was throwing, but it was all pretty basic stuff, just really effective. I think the Royals batters are just a little confused in general. That Shealy kid was holding the bat upside down in his first at-bat, and Gordon actually tried to run before he even saw a pitch. I kind of felt sorry for him. He was so pleased with himself when he slid into third base.”
After the game, Matsuzaka said he was satisfied with his performance, even though it came against a sub-par offensive ballclub.
“It was a good first day for me,” Dice-K said through an interpreter. “I felt loose and relaxed and I was able to locate my pitches pretty well. I was also able to change speeds. I don’t mind that I was pitching against a shitty lineup. Those guys are major league hitters. One of them even got a home run off me. That was my own fault, of course. I never should have screamed 'fastball down the middle' before throwing a fastball down the middle. Hey, what can I say? I was bored.”
Royals Dazzled By Dice-K’s Mysterious ‘Change Up’
|April 10, 2007 Volume 2 Issue 90|