Matsuzaka has thrown his fastball more confidently in recent starts. But the Red Sox hurler, who will face San Francisco phenom Matt Cain on Saturday, still has not reached midseason form. Avoiding big innings and maintaining a consistent delivery, especially from the stretch, will be objectives for the Tokyo native.
"Above all else," he said, "I want to go out and throw assertively and give it my all, without worrying too much about the little things. Of course, come game time, [catcher Jason Varitek] and I will go over some things. But I do have to face a nine-man lineup and not just Barry Bonds."
Cain has had no trouble keeping his velocity in the mid- to high-90s. He has struggled, nevertheless, earning wins. San Francisco has lost Cain's last five starts, providing exactly 10 runs of support.
"It doesn't matter if it's a 1-0 game or a 15-14 game," Cain said. "If you lose, you lose. It doesn't matter if you lose by one run or a ton of runs."
There is little doubt where Cain will look for support. Bonds bats fourth in a lineup that ranks 24th in team on-base percentage.
"Personally," Matsuzaka said, "I just hope I get to enjoy facing him."
BOS: RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (7-5, 4.52 ERA)
Matsuzaka recovered from a disastrous May 30 start against Cleveland on the team's West Coast road trip, lowering his ERA by 30 points and striking out 17 in a pair of starts (both losses) against Oakland and Arizona. Like Cain, Boston's Japanese star is looking for help. Against Cain, that will be a tall order.
SF: RHP Matt Cain (2-6, 3.31 ERA)
Cain, a 22-year-old fireballer from Dothan, Ala., has never faced the Red Sox in his career, but he has faced two Red Sox. Julio Lugo and J.D. Drew were both Los Angeles Dodgers in 2006 when Cain took a brilliant second-half tour through the National League schedule. But Cain did have trouble against the Dodgers, as Lugo and Drew can attest. The pair went 5-for-11 against Cain.
Player to watch
After a week-long hiccup in which he didn't record an extra-base hit, Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia picked up his hot streak right where he left off on Friday, with a homer and a double against the Giants' Barry Zito.
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Sunday: Red Sox (Tim Wakefield, 6-7, 3.92) vs. Giants (Matt Morris, 7-3, 2.56), 2:05 p.m. ET
Monday: Red Sox (Curt Schilling, 6-3, 3.80) at Braves (Chuck James, 5-6, 4.16), 7:05 p.m. ET
Tuesday: Red Sox (Josh Beckett, 9-1, 3.39) at Braves (Tim Hudson, 6-4, 3.25), 7:35 p.m. ET