Chez Shaffner

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Matsuzaka-San vs. The Near No-No

Last night we had the distinct pleasure of witnessing first-hand, from the grandstands on the third-base line, the Fenway début of Daisuke Matsusaka. From his pitching line (7.0IP, 3ER) and Ichiro’s box score against (0-3), you’d have to say that he delivered the goods. Unfortunately, the man on the hill wearing the other jersey came so close to perfection… It’s tough to beat a one-hitter (though I just looked for a nifty link and found it’s happened more often than I would have thought…) so it’s tough to fault Matsuzaka. Hernández was unbelievable out there. Shivering in the low-40s Boston air around 9:15pm, six outs shy of the no-hitter, I realized it would make for a hell of a story if he finished it. Then J.D. Drew busted a single up the middle and I was oddly depressed. Matsusaka and a no-hitter in the same night? So close…

The Fenway area buzzed with playoff intensity last night. Not only was every seat filled by the first inning last night (a rare feat), but every area bar was packed to capacity with the spillover of fans who wanted to be near the action even if they couldn’t afford the exorbitant scalper-priced tix. An April game with that kind of vibe? Crazy.

We didn’t manage to snag any of the white Karate-Kid headbands, but we got a laminated sheet of Japanese baseball terms. I heard some people shouting them throughout the game…

Inside, the standing ovation lasted from his taking the mound until he recorded the first out of the game, a grounder from Ichiro to Matsusaka, soft toss to Youkilis for the out. Flashbulbs popped twenty per second across the 36,000-strong. It was a wondrous sight--truly, without a sniff of hyperbole--to see those flickering white lights dance through the crowd.

By the fourth inning or so, down a couple runs, fans returned to their normal patterns: waiting in long lines for $7.00 beers, chowing Fenway franks, and rushing the bathrooms between innings.

I can't wait to see what this kid can do. It's Pedro-mania again, with Dice-K's every start earning "must-see TV" status. Ganbare, Matsusaka-san.

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