From the Sporting News:
Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona proved to be a sage. His starting pitcher on Tuesday, Daisuke Matsuzaka, was preparing for what might be the most bizarre opening day start in the history of baseball, a Japanese national hero pitching at the Tokyo Dome — site of some of the heroics that made Matsuzaka’s reputation in the first place — in an official major-league game being played as most teams still are toiling in Arizona and Florida.
As a rookie last year, Matsuzaka was brilliant through early July, when an eight-inning win against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays pushed his record to 10-5 and lowered his ERA to 3.53. Around mid-August, though, Matsuzaka appeared to be gassed, going through a 1-4 stretch, pitching 26 1/3 innings over five starts, yielding 28 runs, six home runs and 14 walks.
He finished last season with a 15-12 record and 4.40 ERA. The home runs — he gave up 25 on the year — seemed to rattle him, causing him to nibble too much with his pitches. That led to walks, exacerbating his problems.
The Red Sox would go on to beat the A’s, 6-5 in 10 innings, but Matsuzaka did not figure in the decision.
Read the article for some interesting analysis of Matsuzaka’s pitching.