It’s probably safe to say we can take Daisuke Matsuzaka out of the mix to start the season in Boston’s rotation. Dice-K’s live batting practice session on Saturday was scratched due to a stiff neck. He threw just five pitches in the bullpen before shutting it down.
Today was going to be an important step forward for Dice-K, who was tentatively scheduled to appear in his first game action on Wednesday, likely against minor leaguers. That start will almost surely be pushed back now that Matsuzaka needs to return to Boston for some personal matters.
The Red Sox have taken it slow with Matsuzaka since he complained of some back stiffness at the start of camp in February.
Assuming Matsuzaka starts the season on the disabled list, Boston’s rotation will consist of Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz and Tim Wakefield.
Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas belted his 37th home run on Wednesday evening, setting a new club record for homers in a single season. Moustakas had been tied with Steve Balboni, who hit 36 home runs in 1985.
The home run came on a 2-0, 82 MPH slider from Blue Jays reliever Carlos Ramirez, boosting the Royals’ lead to 13-0 in the top of the sixth inning.
Moustakas, 29, entered the night batting .271/.313/.523 with 82 RBI and 71 runs scored in 560 plate appearances.
Red Sox starter Chris Sale recorded his 300th strikeout of the 2017 season on Wednesday night against the Orioles. The momentous occasion occurred with two outs in the eighth inning. Facing Ryan Flaherty, Sale threw a slider that caught the strike zone low and inside for called strike three.
Sale and Clayton Kershaw (2015) are the only pitchers to strikeout 300-plus batters in a season in the last 15 years. Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson accomplished the feat in 2002, and Johnson also did it in 2001 and 2000. Pedro Martinez had been the only other Red Sox pitcher to have a 300-strikeout season.
Through eight scoreless innings, Sale limited the Orioles to four hits with no walks and 13 strikeouts. The Red Sox offense gave him plenty of run support. Mookie Betts and Devin Marrero each hit two-run home runs in the fourth. Hanley Ramirez added a two-run double in the sixth and Dustin Pedroia hit a two-run double of his own in the eighth to make it 8-0.