Within the blink of an eye, the score soared to 7-0 in favor of the 2-8 Rays. With only 45 pitches thrown, the majority served up like batting practice, Dice-K left the mound to a chorus of boos throughout Fenway Park.
"He came out in the first inning and threw a lot of strikes," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “We got into the second, and everything went to the middle of the plate. There was one walk, but seven balls were hit right on the barrel. You love when guys throw strikes, but there were balls that were middle middle for seven hitters."
Francona’s reputation for defending his players was clearly not upheld after the game last night. What else can be said?
Dice-K was dreadful.
What’s more frustrating is that he didn’t build upon Josh Beckett’s masterful performance against the rival Yankees. Not even a glimpse of competitiveness.
During his Red Sox career, batters have hit .349 (90 for 258) with 15 home runs and 21 doubles on Matsuzaka’s first pitch. This season? Opponents swinging on his first pitch are batting .750 (6 for 8), with two homers and eight RBI.
Predictable, to say the least.
Entering his fifth year with Boston, patience is running thin with both Red Sox Nation and management. Even though we are only 10 games into the season, panic has risen surrounding Matsuzaka.
Throughout his career with the Red Sox, controversy continuously developed regarding the altering of his workouts in between starts and limiting his pitch counts. Entering the 2011 season, new pitching coach Curt Young has loosened the noose, letting Matsuzaka take a step back to his old routine.
At this point, it’s too late for adjustments in his game. Given his strong history of inconsistencies, Dice-K is no longer an effective pitcher in the MLB.
Quite frankly, any in-house candidate would be a better alternative than Matsuzaka. Tim Wakefield, Felix Doubront or former Yankee Alfredo Aceves are the likeliest candidates to take the reins as the fifth starter.
The Red Sox also could explore the trade market. I would be shocked if they didn’t attempt to shop Matsuzaka at the end of the season. However, this task would seem to be nearly impossible simply because he has minimal value, not to mention a no-trade clause.
Similar to Julio Lugo, the Red Sox need to admit their mistake and eat the remaining money on Dice-K’s contract. It won’t happen tomorrow, but after his next poor outing, it very well may.
"The best way to be a good player is to be consistent," said Francona. "You can have some bad nights, but there are a lot of nights where you don't quite know what's going to happen.”
It’s safe to say at this point that we do know what’s going to happen.
Tucker Silva is a contributor for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand or from official interview materials from 98.5 The Sports Hub WBZ-FM.