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Thursday’s Red Sox-Marlins matchups: Daisuke Matsuzaka vs. Carlos Zambrano

06.21.12 at 3:23 pm ET

Daisuke Matsuzaka looks for his first win of the year Thursday night as the Red Sox wrap up their series against the Marlins.

On June 9, Matsuzaka struggled in his first start back from Tommy John surgery, giving up four runs in five innings to the Nationals, though he racked up an impressive eight strikeouts to just one walk in the process. In his second start, Matsuzaka lasted through the sixth inning, allowing three runs on four hits, but struggled with his control, walking three and hitting a batter, as the Cubs dealt him his second straight loss.

In his 11 innings this season, Matsuzaka has been relying on his fastball 71 percent of the time. That number jumps to 82 percent when he falls behind in the count. His curveball and slider each account for about 10 to 12 percent of his other pitches, while it appears he has yet to regain confidence in his changeup, which accounts for only 6 percent of his pitches and a meager 1 percent against right-handed batters.

Matsuzaka faces an unfamiliar opponent in the Marlins, having pitched to just four Miami players. Only John Buck, with 11 plate appearances, has had any real success against Matsuzaka, with two doubles and an RBI to go along with three strikeouts.

Carlos Zambrano, though listed as day-to-day with a stiff back, is expected to take the hill opposite Matsuzaka. Zambrano hasn’t missed a start since since tweaking his back on June 9, but is certainly pitching like he’€™s injured. In the two games he’s pitched since hurting his back, Zambrano has lasted fewer than 3 innings in each and allowing a combined 11 runs and nine walks in 4 1/3 innings.

Overall however, Zambrano has been quite effective this season with seven quality starts in 10 outings. Though he’€™s only 4-5 on the year, the 31-year-old righty’€™s ERA was an impressive 2.81 prior to tweaking his back on June 9 against the Rays, (it’€™s ballooned to 3.92 since).

In two career starts against the Red Sox, Zambrano has failed to finish six innings pitched in either, allowing a combined seven runs and six walks. However, only seven current Sox players have faced Zambrano and are hitting a collective .227 with just one home run and 13 strikeouts in 44 at-bats.

Marlins vs. Matsuzaka (RHP)

John Buck (11 plate appearances): .500 BA/.455 OBP/.700 SLG, 2 doubles, 1 RBI, 3 strikeouts

Austin Kearns (6): .167/.167/.167, 3 strikeouts

Omar Infante (2): .000/.000/.000

Greg Dobbs (1): 000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout

Red Sox vs. Zambrano (RHP)

Adrian Gonzalez (22 plate appearances): .222 BA/.364 OBP/.222 SLG, 1 RBI, 4 walks, 4 strikeouts

Cody Ross (13): .167/.231/.250, 5 strikeouts, 1 double, 1 RBI, 1 walk

David Ortiz (6): .200/.333/.800, 1 HR, 2 RBIs, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Dustin Pedroia (4): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout

Nick Punto (3): .667/.667/1.333, 1 triple, 1 RBI, 1 strikeout

Kevin Youkilis (3): 1.000/1.000/1.000, 1 single, 1 walk

Vicente Padilla (2): .000/.500/.000, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Carlos Zambrano, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Miami Marlins
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