Tuesday June 08, 2010 | 08:27 AM

Two straight solid outings for Daisuke Matsuzaka. Red Sox fans, teased before by the Dice-K's brilliance, are cautiously hoping he has turned the corner after 8 shutout innings (4 H, 2 BB, 5 K, 112 pitches, 70 strikes).

Another good sign is that Matsuzaka did this on four day's rest (his last outing came on five days' rest, when he is historically stronger).

Give Dice-K a deserved round of applause, but remember that Cleveland is one of the worst hitting teams in the majors (ranked 25th). To be fair, Matsuzaka has also pitched well against good-hitting teams, like Philadelphia. And, by the way, he will face the Phillies again on Saturday.

Boston is 34-25, two games behind the Yankees (35-22) and 4 in back of the Rays (37-20). Both of those teams were off Monday. Now the Yankees face the hapless Orioles, while Tampa Bay host the surprising Jays.

If Cleveland is such a bad hitting team, the Indians may get relief tonight if Tim Wakefield' knuckler is not dancing. It has been flat recently and Wakefield (1-4, 6.02 ERA) has been hit hard. Could be a high-scoring game with Cleveland starting David Huff (2-6, 6.08).

The Red Sox picked three college players in the extended first round of the draft Monday: Ball State second baseman Kolbrin Vitek, Middle Tennessee State outfielder Bryce Brentz, and LSU pitcher Anthony Ranaudo (kudos to soxprospects.com for having all three of them among Boston's possible choices).

In his conference call, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said, "This was as excited as we've been in the draft room since I got here ..." according to boston.com

Vitek is said to be a solid hitter, with a little power and a strong arm. His future appears to be third base or the outfield.

Brentz is a power guy. Said to be streaky. Baseball America described him as a "feast-or-famine slugger." Boston obviously hopes for more of the former.

Ranaudo, 6-foot-7, 230 pounds, may be the steal of the first round. Once considered the best college pitcher in the draft, an elbow injury at the beginning of the season slowed him and dropped his value. But Ranaudo had Scott Boras as an agent, so we will soon hear that Ranaudo is a "one of a kind" pitcher who only comes around every 10 years.

In the minors, Pawtucket's Felix Doubront (2-1, 1.08 ERA) went 5 innings (5 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 5 K) ... Both Ryan Kalish (.261) and Aaron Bates (.246) had two hits.

Portland was off Monday, but three future Sea Dogs were performing in Salem. Both Will Middlebrooks (.297) and Ryan Lavarnway (.295) had two hits, with Middlebrooks hitting his fourth home run. Oscar Tejeda (.327) went 1-for-3.


About this Blog

Kevin Thomas covers baseball and basketball for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He wisely moved to Maine in 1994 after working for the St. Petersburg Times. He is married to Nancy and they have nine children.

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