|Friday’s Red Sox-Cubs matchups: Daisuke Matsuzaka vs. Ryan Dempster||06.15.12 at 8:38 am ET|
Daisuke Matsuzaka may have given up four earned runs and picked up the loss in his return to the Red Sox rotation last Saturday, but all things considered, it was an encouraging start for the Japanese right-hander.
In his first start as a Red Sox since having Tommy John surgery, Matsuzaka pitched five innings against the Nationals, and while he allowed the four earned runs, he also struck out eight and only allowed five hits. Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field, the Red Sox will hand the ball to Matsuzaka in an effort to build on that success as he makes his first career start against the Cubs.
It could be the perfect game for Matsuzaka to build on, too. The Cubs own the worst record in baseball and are sliding, having lost 11 out of their last 14 games. Their offense ranks near the bottom of the league in runs (26th), on-base percentage (27th) and slugging percentage (23rd).
Matsuzaka has only played against three currents Cubs batters in his career, with the most experience coming against David DeJesus. The former Royal and Athletic has 10 plate appearances against Matsuzaka with one home run and a .444 batting average. DeJesus has a .268 average with two homers and 16 RBIs in 2012.
Countering Matsuzaka for the Cubs will be Ryan Dempster, who is on a bit of a hot streak since having a difficult start to the season. The right-hander was 0-3 through nine starts, but a turn of the calendar to June has bred good fortune for him. He’s won his last two games and hasn’t given up a run in his last 15 innings.
Run support hasn’t been Dempster’s friend this season, which could be a reason for his lackluster start to the year. The 35-year-old has an impressive 2.31 ERA and 1.03 WHIP, but the Cubs have failed to score more than three runs in six of his starts this season.
In three career appearances against Boston, Dempster is 0-1 with a save. His last appearance came in 2005, when he picked up the save in a 7-6 Cubs victory despite giving up two earned runs on three hits. Dempster hasn’t had much success against the Red Sox as he sports a 10.97 ERA.
Dempster doesn’t have much experience against current Sox batters, but has had a number of appearances against Scott Podsednik and Adrian Gonzalez. Podsednik has a .389 batting average in 22 plate appearances while Gonzalez owns a .143 average in 17 appearances.
Red Sox vs. Dempster (RHP)
Scott Podsednik (22 plate appearances): .389 BA/.500 OBP/.778 SLG, 2 doubles, 1 triple, 1 home run, 2 RBIs, 4 walks, 3 strikeouts
Adrian Gonzalez (17): .143/.294/.571, 2 home runs, 2 RBIs, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts
Nick Punto (5): .000/.200/.000, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
David Ortiz (4): .333/.250/.333, 1 RBI
Ryan Sweeney (4): .333/.250/.333, 1 RBI, 2 strikeouts
Jarrod Saltalamacchia (1): 1.000/1.000/2.000, 1 double
Cubs vs. Matsuzaka (RHP)
David DeJesus (10 plate appearances): .444 BA/.500 OBP/.778 SLG, 1 home run, 2 RBIs, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts
Reed Johnson (3): .333/.333/.333, 1 strikeout
Bryan LaHair (3): .333/.333/.333, 1 strikeout
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