Daisuke Matsuzaka’s first start back from Tommy John surgery Saturday against the Nationals served as a kind of microcosm for his major league career: he was sharp at times, but inconsistency did him in.
Dice-K opened with a perfect first frame, fanning Steve Lombardozzi and Ryan Zimmerman, and inducing a pop-up out of phenom Bryce Harper.
The right-hander would go on to strike out eight batters while issuing just one walk, but he left a few too many pitches up in the zone and the Nats were able to rally for four runs (all earned) on five hits before sending him to the showers after five innings.
Matsuzaka tossed 80 pitches — 52 of which went for strikes — as the Red Sox fell back under .500 with a record of 29-30. Dice-K is currently scheduled to take on the Cubs at Wrigley Field in his next outing.
Perhaps there are a few who still miss the slope of Tal’s Hill rising from center field, but George Springer isn’t one of them. He lassoed a 403-foot fly ball from Todd Frazier in the seventh inning of Game 6, reaching nearly to the top of the wall to prevent the Yankees from gaining on the Astros’ 3-0 lead.
According to Statcast, a fly ball with an exit velocity of 103.6 MPH and a launch angle of 29 degrees lands for a home run 72% of the time. That wasn’t going to fly with the Astros, who were facing runners on first and second with one out and saw Justin Verlander‘s pitch count rapidly approaching 100.
It wasn’t long before the Yankees tried for another home run, however, and this one sailed far above the heads of all of the Astros’ outfielders. Aaron Judge lofted a 425-foot shot to left field in the eighth inning, destroying a first-pitch fastball from Brad Peacock and finally getting New York on the board.
The Yankees currently trail the Astros 4-1 in the bottom of the eighth.