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Scott Atchison, the hero in the park

06.12.10 at 8:59 pm ET
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Scott Atchison knew the drill … sort of.

Atchison last lived the life of a starter in 2008 when pitching in Japan. But, as he pointed out after the Red Sox’ 10-2 win over the Phillies, “It’s totally different in the big leagues.”

Atchison found out he was getting a chance to make his first major league start just 20 minutes before the start of the game, getting word that there might be something wrong with the scheduled Red Sox’ starter, Daisuke Matsuzaka.

“I was in here dressed, 20 or 25 minutes before the game, I guess, just kind of waiting. [Bench coach] DeMarlo [Hale} came in and said, 'Atch get your glove. Let's go.' I said, 'Where we going?' He said, 'We need you out in the bullpen, something might be up.' I was already dressed so it wasn't that big a deal from that point,” Atchison said. “I got out in the dugout and Tito said, 'Head out to the bullpen. We're not exactly sure what's going on.' So I went out there and Dice was still throwing. I guess they called in and they were like, 'Get going, you're going to start this thing.' It was kind of exciting because I've never started a game in the big leagues. I was able to put a '1' where all the '0's' used to be in the columns.”

The 34-year-old held his own, all things considered, going three innings, giving up two runs. Prior to Japan, Atchison’s experience as a starter consisted of one start with Triple A Fresno in ’07, with the last regular run as a starting pitcher in the United States coming in ’02 with Triple A Tacoma.

“I had done it somewhat before, so I guess I knew what I was getting myself into,” he noted.

“I had plenty of time. I'm a reliever. I probably could have waited actually a little longer, but they said 'Get going' and I hadn't look at the clock. There were a thousand things running through my mind as to what was going on. I tried to treat the warm-up for the most part like I would if I was getting loose to come in and pitch an inning. I figured that was the best way to go about it.”

It was an effort that drew a tremendous amount of appreciation from the Red Sox considering the immediacy that came with the decision following Matsuzaka’s ailment.

“Thankfully Pawtucket was in town, and we got Richardson here,” said Francona of Dustin Richardson, who was summoned to take Matsuzaka’s place on the roster. “He didn’t pitch. That’s a lot to ask out of a bullpen. Fortunately everything about as well as it could. Atchison gives us three, which is a lot, and then everyone who came in did great.

“[Matsuzaka] threw a lot of cutters his last outing but nothing to suggest this would happen. This was all happening as he was warming up. Johnny [Farrell] had called me and said, hey, he’s not warming up very well. I called him back and said, ‘Is this something to worry about?’ I said, ‘Let Atchison. We don’t want to surprise somebody, don’t want to put him behind the eight-ball more than he already is. It became apparent, Johnny called back and said, ‘I’m not comfortable with this.’ And I don’t think dice-k fought him.”

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