Last night was painful, on more than one level. For Jon Lester, the pain was physical, as he got absolutely nailed by a vicious liner off the bat of Melky Cabrera in the third inning. For fans, the pain was mental, with all of New England gasping in tandem as the newly announced Game 1 starter for the presumptive playoffs crumpled to the ground. Even when we heard that the X-Rays on Lester came back negative, most of us couldn't bring ourselves to care too much about the score following his exit (to an ovation from the surprisingly classy Yankee Stadium Crowd), as we were all too busy worrying about Red Sox Nation's prodigal son.
Tonight is a totally different matter. In the light of day, with more and more reports coming in that Lester might even be able to make his next start (scheduled for Thursday at Fenway Park), we turn some of our attention to this afternoon's match-up: the inimitable CC Sabathia, and the enigmatic Daisuke Matsuzaka.
First, for CC. Despite all the fat jokes that get made about him, Sabathia is the real deal. He leads the league in wins, and his ERA is no laughing matter. However, there is a silver lining: some of our hitters seem to fair relatively well against him. Kevin Youkilis, for example, hits .333 off of CC (he also hits Doc Halladay very well..weird.), and Papi hits him at a .304 clip. Strangely enough, Chris Woodward has pretty good numbers against CC (.273 BA).
Daisuke, on the other hand has relatively good numbers against the Yanks. The only players on the team with significant at-bats against Daisuke that hit him well are Jorge Posada, (.500), and Johnny Damon and Derek Jeter, who both hit .333 off of him (Mr. Leigh Teixeira is 1-for-2). However, Matsuzaka is a totally different pitcher since coming off his extended DL time than we've seen. The guy that showed up for Daiuke's last two starts is more like the two-time WBC MVP than the frustrating 18-game winner (with only 5.7 innings per start, I'd like to award half of those wins to the bullpen) of yesteryear.
Unfortunately, we have to watch this intriguing match-up while listening to Tim McCarver ballwash Derek Jeter for nine innings. I hate FOX.