Daisuke Matsuzaka takes aim at his first win of the season this evening when the Boston Red Sox continue a three-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park.
Matsuzaka's return from Tommy John surgery has been lukewarm so far, as he is 0-2 with a 6.06 ERA. He didn't get a decision on Thursday against Miami, but was not particularly sharp, allowing four runs in 5 1/3 frames. Three of those runs came in the first inning, though.
"It's been a problem for my previous starts too," said Matsuzaka of his slow start. "Getting through the early innings has been giving me trouble. Going into today's game, I did make a few adjustments, but it obviously didn't work. So going into my next start, I need to make more drastic changes in order get through those innings and place my team in a better position to win."
The Japanese righty could get himself back on track tonight, though, as he owns a 7-1 lifetime mark against the Blue Jays with a 3.46 ERA in 12 starts.
Toronto, meanwhile, will oppose Matsuzaka with lefty Aaron Laffey, who will be making his first start of the season. With starters Kyle Drabek, Drew Hutchinson and Brandon Morrow all sidelined, manager John Farrell is starting to run out of options.
Tonight it's Laffey's turn. He's appeared in four games out of the bullpen for the Jays this season and has pitched to a 3.00 ERA without recording a decision. He hasn't started a game, though, since 2010, but has 49 starts under his belt in his big league career.
Laffey has faced the Red Sox six times (1 start) and is 0-1 with a 9.28 ERA.
On Monday, Colby Rasmus finished with three hits, including a two-run home run, and three runs batted in to help Toronto to a 9-6 triumph.
Jose Bautista hit a two-run home run, as did J.P. Arencibia, for the Blue Jays, who have won three of four overall. Henderson Alvarez (4-6) treaded water through five frames, giving up five runs -- three earned -- on six hits with two strikeouts and one walk before leaving with right elbow soreness.
"When he went out for the sixth inning he had trouble getting loose," Toronto manager John Farrell said of the injury. "It was a precautionary thing. We'll get him an MRI tomorrow.
Felix Doubront (8-4) took the loss, giving up seven runs -- five earned -- on 11 hits with two strikeouts and one walk over six frames. David Ortiz hit a pair of home runs and drove in three for the Red Sox, who saw a brief two-game winning streak come to an end in a game marred by a one-hour, 56-minute rain delay.
"He was trying to throw a lot of strikes, and it seems a lot of them got hit," said Boston manager Bobby Valentine. "It wasn't his best outing, but he will improve on that."
Ortiz is two homers shy of 400 in his career.
Toronto has split its six games with the Red Sox this season.