|Closing Time: Offense struggles as Sox drop series-opener to Cubs||06.15.12 at 5:06 pm ET|
The Red Sox dropped the opening game of their three-game series at Wrigley Field to the Cubs, 3-0 on Friday in a game in which they struggled to mount any offense. Ryan Dempster was dominant for the Cubs, only allowing four hits and two walks through seven innings and even chipping in on offense, scoring a run.
Daisuke Matsuzaka had a rough start for the Red Sox, walking three hitters in the first inning and allowing three runs through the first two innings. However, he settled down and finished having only allowed four hits and three runs through his six innings of work.
The Cubs snapped Boston’s two-game winning streak. The Red Sox will look to bounce back against Theo Epstein’s Cubs on Saturday when Jon Lester matched up with Jeff Samardzija.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
• The Red Sox looked like they would take an early lead when Scott Podsednik and Dustin Pedroia got on base with nobody out in the opening frame. However, none of the next three hitters could score the runners.
One of those hitters was Adrian Gonzalez, who ranks in the top 10 in the American League with a .369 batting average and a 1.010 OPS with runners in scoring position. However, Gonzalez struck out with nobody out, beginning the end of a potential Red Sox rally.
• After showing improved control in his first start back from Tommy John surgery, only surrendering one walk to the Nationals, Matsuzaka reminded Red Sox fans of his frustrating wildness on Friday. Matsuzaka walked the bases loaded in the first inning before surrendering a two-run single to Steve Clevenger.
Matsuzaka has had a problem with walks ever since his arrival in Boston, as he has averaged 4.3 walks per nine innings through his 107 games with the Red Sox.
• Gonzalez had a rough moment in the right field in the second inning when Dempster slapped his second hit of the year down the line in right. Gonzalez not only missed the ball while diving to try to make the catch, but then missed the cutoff man while relaying the ball back into the infield, allowing Dempster to reach third base for a triple.
Gonzalez, who had a .900 fielding percentage in his 15 starts in right field this season before Friday’s game, not only failed to make the play in right field but put himself at risk of injury by making an awkward dive for the ball.
• The Red Sox could not solve Dempster, as he pitched seven shutout innings and only allowed four hits. Dempster proved just as dangerous in the batter’s box, as he went 2-for-2 with a triple and a single.
The triple was Dempster’s first since May 12, 2002, and first extra-base hit since May 15, 2010. In Friday’s game, Dempster had more hits than he had had all season, as he was only 1-for-23.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
• The Red Sox had no problem running on the Cubs, as they recorded four stolen bases while Dempster was pitching (although none of them scored). Podsednik stole two bases while Mike Aviles, and Nick Punto each stole one.
The stolen bases were unusual for the Red Sox, who were tied in last place with the Orioles with only 22 stolen bases before the game.
• While Matsuzaka struggled to begin the game, he certainly settled down after the first two innings, holding the Cubs scoreless with only one hit over the subsequent four innings.
Matsuzaka did not repeat the eight-strikeout performance he had against Washington during his first loss of the season, as he only had three strikeouts. However, taking into account how Matsuzaka started Friday’s game, the way he settled in over his last four innings was encouraging.
- Cup of Coffee: Spring's walk-off grand slam lifts Portland
- Bradley: "Everything's back to normal"
- Cup of Coffee: PawSox, Drive produce walk-off wins
- PawSox activate Jackie Bradley, Jr. from disabled list
- Weekly Notes: De La Rosa, Betts take center stage
- Cup of Coffee: Shaw leads 18-hit attack in Sea Dogs rout
- Cup of Coffee: Gedman, big Salem seventh key system’s only win
- Christian Vazquez’s new focus at the plate starting to pay off
- Cup of Coffee: Augliera dominant in Salem victory
- Players of the Week, May 6-12: Rubby De La Rosa and Mookie Betts