The Mets brought in Daisuke Matsuzaka last week with the hopes that his moxie on the mound would at least keep them in games. But it's not working out as they envisioned.
Making his second start for the Mets last night, the veteran righthander pitched as if each Philadelphia Phillies batter presented his own personal game of cat-and-mouse. And on this night the art of dancing around the hitters worked for only so long.
The heavy pitch count Matsuzaka logged finally caught up with him in the fifth inning, and that's when everything went downhill for him and the Mets in a 6-2 loss, their sixth in seven games.
Matsuzaka was pulled with one out and the bases loaded after he hit John Mayberry Jr. with a pitch to force in a run, and then opposing pitcher Cole Hamels delivered the big hit, a two-out, two-run single off lefthander Robert Carson.
Hamels also did his part keeping the Mets at bay, allowing only two runs in seven innings while striking out eight.
That looked like Cy Young material compared to Matsuzaka, who was charged with four runs in 41/3 innings in an outing that is best described as laborsome.
It took him 110 pitches for 25 hitters to register those 13 outs, forcing Collins to go to his bullpen earlier than he would have liked. "I was all over the place today," Matsuzaka said through a translator. "I was up in the zone. I was unable to throw the ball to where [Travis] d'Arnaud wanted me to throw it."
But Mets manager Terry Collins gave Matsuzaka a vote of confidence. "Tonight the command was off and therefore he was off, but when he commands it, he's going to get outs, because it's good enough."
That he didn't leave with the Mets facing a greater deficit is a testament to his ability to pitch out of trouble. The Phillies stranded seven in the first four innings against Matsuzaka, including leaving the bases loaded in the second and third innings.
In two starts for the Mets, Matsuzaka has given up nine runs in 91/3 innings, far from the production they were hoping for from the veteran.