********VOTE OKAJIMA********CLICK ON THE TITLE********MAKE THE DARKMAN AN ALL-STAR*******
Daisuke Matsuzaka provided the pre-July 4th fireworks last night in front of another sold-out Fenway Park crowd on a cool and beautiful summer evening. Utilizing his curveball as much as his fastball, he went 8 innings, allowing only 4 hits and no runs. He struck out 9 in what might have been his strongest all around performance of the year. He seems to have settled into quite the groove after an understandable period of getting used to his new surroundings and the unfamiliar hitters. And he had a spectacular June, posting an ERA of 1.58 in his 5 starts. It's exciting that we'll be seeing him on the mound every 5th or 6th day.
The biggest hit of the day came from none other than the slumping Julio Lugo. He broke an 0-33 hitless streak with a single up the middle in the second inning that scored two runs and gave the Sox a 3-0 lead. Said the man himself, and this is from the Courant........
"Tonight was very special for me," said Lugo, who went 2-for-3 and raised his average to .194. "I'm the guy that's going to go out there and give you 100 percent every day. The fans see that I appreciate them doing that for me. I just put in what I've been practicing. I put on a good swing and fortunately I got a hit."
For Daisuke, a 3-0 lead was more than he's been used to by a long shot, and he dazzled and doodled with the Devil Rays throughout his super strong 8 innings. Jonathon Papelbon pitched the 9th in a non-save situation, allowing a harmless Pesky Pole home run before retiring the side and ending the game. And the fans went home happy as their team won its second straight. 5 more games to go before the All Star break, and it would be nice to win them all. And we'll see Daisuke again on Sunday. How sweet is that?
It's Wakefield versus Jackson in the Fourth of July 1PM game at the Fens today. The weather will be picture perfect as we all hope for many crooked numbers on the bottom half of the scoreboard on the Green Wall.
Oh, and this is so important. Please don't forget to vote for the Darkman, Hideki Okajima, for one of the final two All Star game spots. Just click on the title of this very post and you will be directed straight to the ballot. Even if you've already voted, vote again a dozen times or so. OKI has a narrow lead now, and Red Sox Nation and Red Sox International are not letting him down. If you don't believe that the Red Sox fans from Japan are behind Oki as much as we are, just scroll down to the post immediately preceding this one. Just below. It's an email I received from fellow Red Sox fan SuperBowl, a friend from Japan, a blog writer and a lover of that team from Boston. So just click on that title. And our very own Jonathon Papelbon said this, from mlb dot com.....
"Okajima has been a brilliant addition to the Boston bullpen this season, fashioning an 0.78 WHIP with 13 holds and 0.88 ERA in 38 appearances. On Red Sox regional network NESN Monday night, his late-inning cohort, Jonathan Papelbon, offered this slogan: "Get my man to San Fran, it's closer to Japan."
Okajima held a news conference with Japanese media following Monday night's game -- designed to heighten interest in the Final Vote over in Japan. "It would be a great honor if I get to the All-Star Game," Okajima said then. "But I can't get there myself. I can do my best to pitch well. But I have to rely on the fans to vote for me. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and that's why I want to play in the All-Star Game this year."
Peter here. We love you, Oki, and we're going to do all we can to get you on that All Star Team. You deserve it. A 0.88 ERA...that's all that needs to be said. Voting ends 6pm Thursday. I have faith in you, my readers, to do all you can to make our Darkman an All Star. Thanks, and a happy and healthy holiday to you and yours. From me, that guy who sometimes just can't stop typing. VOTE OKI!!!!!! VOTE OKI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Click on the title. For me................