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Matsuzaka tour heads to Canada

Matsuzaka tour heads to Canada

A day later than originally scheduled, and in a different country, Daisuke Matsuzaka steps back on the mound for the Red Sox on Tuesday night when they open a three-game series against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.

After dazzling for so many years in Japan and coming to the United States with such anticipation, Matsuzaka now takes his act to Canada for a night.

His image of Canada?

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"Canada, it's a beautiful country," Matsuzaka told the Japanese media on Friday. "If I have time, I'd like to go to Niagara Falls. I think this time I don't have time. Besides, it's very cold right now. When I have time, I want to go."

Matsuzaka and the Red Sox -- who are fresh off sweeping the Angels in three straight -- will be glad to get to the climate-controlled Rogers Centre after two rainouts at Fenway over the last week.

"I'm looking forward to wearing short sleeves," said Sox third baseman Mike Lowell.

In his Wednesday outing, Matsuzaka was solid in allowing three runs over seven innings to the Mariners. However, Seattle phenom Felix Hernandez was simply dazzling, firing a one-hit shutout. That gave Matsuzaka his first Major League loss.

"I think we're hyping him up so much that when he gives up three runs, it's like, 'Oh my God.' Three runs over seven innings, I'll take that," said Lowell.

Matsuzaka helped create some of the hype by his sensational performance against the Royals in his first start. In that one, the righty allowed one run and struck out 10 over seven innings.

The Blue Jays will be Matsuzaka's first American League East opponent, not to mention the toughest lineup he's seen to date.

"I'm excited any time he pitches," said Lowell. "He has the ability to shut down a lineup. Toronto played us pretty tough last year. Hopefully we can get off to a good start."

When you talk about the Blue Jays, Matsuzaka knows that the conversation starts with Vernon Wells. During the MLB All-Star tour to Japan in 2004, Matsuzaka marveled while watching Wells, though the star center fielder didn't play in the game he pitched.

"When he came to Japan, I knew he was a good hitter, a slugger," Matsuzaka told Japanese reporters on Sunday. "Most home run hitters have spots where you can strike them out. Vernon Wells can make contact with any pitch. He's not just a home run hitter."

Naturally, Wells knows all about Matsuzaka.

"I saw him in Spring Training a lot, obviously," said Wells. "All his games were on TV. I'm sure he's going to be as good as advertised. We'll just have to be better."

Pitching matchup
BOS: RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-1, 2.57 ERA)
Matsuzaka was solid, though not spectacular on Wednesday, giving up eight hits and three runs over seven innings in a 3-0 loss to the Mariners. Matsuzaka has allowed 14 hits over 14 innings over his first two starts. His control has been as advertised, with Matsuzaka striking out 14 batters while walking just two. Opponents are hitting .240 against him. Thanks to a rainout against the Mariners, Matsuzaka will have five days of rest in this start, which is what he became accustomed to in Japan.

TOR: LHP Gustavo Chacin (1-0, 4.91 ERA)
On Wednesday, Chacin recorded his first win of the season and continued his strong start to 2007. The 26-year-old lefty surrendered three runs on five hits over five innings against the Royals. Chacin has experienced a lot of success versus Boston during his three-year career. He is 5-0 with an ERA of 4.29 in seven starts.

Player to watch
Center fielder Coco Crisp, hitting .111 thus far, is 3-for-7 lifetime against Chacin.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• NESN

On radio
• WRKO-680 AM, Spanish Baseball Network (Español)

Up next
• Wednesday: Red Sox (Tim Wakefield, 1-1, 1.38) at Blue Jays (Tomo Okha, 0-1, 7.84), 7:07 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Red Sox (Julian Tavarez, 0-1, 9.00) at Blue Jays (Roy Halladay, 2-0, 2.35), 12:37 p.m. ET
• Friday: Red Sox (Curt Schilling, 2-1, 2.84) vs. Yankees (Andy Pettitte, 1-0, 1.50), 7:05 p.m. ET

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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