At 1:35 pm today, the Red Sox will send Daisuke Matsuzaka to the hill in hopes of grabbing the series win against Tampa Bay's Matt Garza. Garza had an electrifying performance against the Sox in the playoffs, but Daisuke is looking to give him his first loss of the 2009 season.
The Sox look to improve upon a 7-2 loss last night to the Rays. There will be many factors this afternoon to gain a win against this tough Rays team. Daisuke needs to overpower the Rays batters from the get-go. Daisuke tends to start off slowly and really crank up the heat by the third or fourth inning. If he comes out with blazing speed today, and eliminates runs early in the game, the Sox should end up on top.
Batting will also be key today. Pedroia has hit well the past two games, hopefully Kevin Youkilis can pick it up and follow suit. Unfortunately one big factor will be David Ortiz. He is 2-for-6 in this series with no RBI's and 1 run. A big homer today could give the Sox the mental boost they need on the offensive end.
Another key is catcher Jason Varitek. He had a home run on opening day, but he still needs to produce RBI's in order to beef up the middle of the Sox order.
If Daisuke gets in trouble look for Brad Penny to come out of the bullpen and sling a couple of heaters over the plate.
Overall, if the Sox can maintain solid pitching and produce a couple of sparks in the offense they should take the series.