BOSTON — Daisuke Matsuzaka plans to redeploy the shuto pitch against the Rays tonight as he attempts to prolong the Red Sox's season in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series.
Matsuzaka said he didn't use the sinker-like pitch much in the regular season but used it often in a seven-inning, four-hit win over the Rays in Game 1, in which he struck out nine and took a no-hitter into the seventh.
"I didn't have a good feel for a lot of my pitches or any one pitch that was working particularly well, so I did rely on it a little bit more," he said through an interpreter.
Matsuzaka, who led the AL in walks but harnessed his control in controlling the Rays, improved to 3-1 in the postseason.
"I'm not (Josh) Beckett, but if I can pitch like he did last year and hand the ball off to the guys behind me, that would be great," he said.
MY SPACE: Manager Terry Francona said his pitchers must re-establish dominion over the inside portion of the plate to hinder the Rays' offensive mind-set that has been aggressive and damaging, with a .287 average and 10 home runs.
"That doesn't mean you try and hit people. That would be incorrect," he said. "But to try to get in and not let them get their arms extended is important."
LAUNDRY: Boston has lost four straight to the Rays at Fenway Park. "It's a little shocking," said C Kevin Cash, a Tampa native and former Ray. "If you look at our past games this season, it's sort of been lopsided to who had the homefield advantage. For us to get the first one at Tropicana, that was huge. To bring it back here and not have anything to show for it, yes it's a little frustrating." … RHP Mike Timlin made his 25th career LCS appearance to tie Yankees RHP Mariano Rivera for the all-time lead. … The Red Sox have won their past seven elimination games in ALCS play.