Remember the hype? The controversy over the $51 million spent just to talk to the guy? Next came the hushed whispers of the secret pitch, the so-called “gyro ball.” By the time Daisuke Matsuzaka threw his first pitch, I was expecting him to be decked out in full Ninja gear (with the required red “B” of course) and doing some crazy Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon shit on the mound. What we got was a sometimes-brilliant-sometimes-shaky, third starter who threw a lot of pitches and exited games too early.

In his second season as a Major Leaguer, Dice-K continues to be inconsistent, but less inconsistent. In his last eight starts, he has given up just 12 earned runs, half of those in a single start against the Angels. In three of his last six starts, he’s pitched into the eighth inning. He continues to walk too many batters, but the walks seldom hurt him as his razor-thin 2.90 ERA shows.

Last night was another step in the right direction. Eight innings, four hits, one earned run and just three walks and a hit batter. Then he steps back and lets the offense do their job. The result: a 13-2 record.

Dayball this afternoon and another semi-critical start for Buchholz. Young Clay hasn’t notched a win since May 2nd, and has not looked particularly sharp in any recent starts. The bats need to continue what they started last night and support the struggling rookie. In his last five starts, the Sox have scored just 17 runs – 6 of those in Buchholz’s only win during the stretch.