Daisuke Matsuzaka makes first minor league rehab start

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Daisuke Matsuzaka officially kicked off his minor league rehab assignment tonight with High-A Salem. Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com has the details.

Matsuzaka, who underwent Tommy John surgery last June, allowed three runs on six hits over four innings while striking out three and walking none. He gave up two runs in the first inning (including a home run to the first batter he faced) and another solo homer in he second. Dice-K was pulled after throwing 40 out of 57 pitches for strikes.

Matsuzaka can spend a maximum of 30 days on his rehab assignment, so he’s on pace to make around five total starts in the minors before returning to the majors at some point next month. The Red Sox appear committed to keeping Daniel Bard in the rotation, but Dice-K could be an alternative if there is a change of plans. Aaron Cook, who is pitching well with Triple-A Pawtucket, is another option if a change is made in the rotation.

Matsuzaka, 31, is owed $10 million this season in the final year of his six-year, $52 million contract.

Video: J.D. Martinez hits league-tying 23rd home run

Seattle Mariners v Boston Red Sox
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The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.

In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.

The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.

Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.