|Justin Masterson: Sinker swims||10.11.08 at 1:39 am ET|
While Daisuke Matsuzaka proved sufficiently nimble to escape jams in the first and seventh inning, Justin Masterson delivered a pair of huge outs. With runners on first and second and one out in the bottom of the eighth, and Boston clinging to a 2-0 lead, the Sox summoned the right-handed sinkerballer to face Evan Longoria.
Masterson was not surprised by the task. He had held the Rookie of the Year lock hitless in seven prior at-bats.
“I was thinking it was a good possibility where that might be one of the times when could come in to face Evan,” Masterson said afterwards.
Masterson, who had struggled at times to find his sinker this year, said that he felt he had a great one in the bullpen. Thanks in part to the three days of rest since the end of the ALDS, the reliever felt refreshed, and his pitches suggested as much.
Masterson knew that he could rely on both his break-and-butter two-seamer as well as a nasty, diving slider to keep the ball down and hope to get a double play. (Masterson produced a remarkable 11 double plays in 34.1 innings as a reliever in the regular season.) He worked Longoria to a 2-2 count, then got the Rays third baseman to ground meekly into a 6-4-3 double play on a slider.
“Part of me was, ‘Do you go for the kill (a strikeout on the 2-2 pitch), or do you just try to get enough to make sure that he might be able to get a piece to get that double play?’” said Masterson. “That’s why you play the game. If you’re really into it, you want to be up there when it’s a really tough situation.”
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