"Kazmir, to me, is one of the premier young, left-handed starters in all of baseball," Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell said. "He pitched very well against us in Boston ... but he's got dominant-type stuff, and any given night, he can shut anybody down."
The two starters have faced off once this season, Dice-K emerging with a win after he held the Rays scoreless through eight innings in the 4-1 victory. Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said perhaps one reason his team struggled so heavily against Matsuzaka that day was a product of conflicting reports.
"He definitely has a great gift for what he's doing out there," Maddon said. "He's as good as advertised, it's just that [last time we saw him], he was a different style pitcher than what I'd read."
Dice-K, 26, remains first among Major League rookies in wins. Though adjusting to American professional baseball often takes a bit of time, Farrell isn't, and wasn't, surprised the Japanese righty hasn't faltered.
"The success that he had [in Japan], combined with the talents that he possesses, makes him a pretty special individual," Farrell said. "What we've come to find over the first half of the season is an undeniable, competitive spirit, a tremendous teammate and someone who really cares.
"I think the success he's had is just a byproduct of all of those elements."
TB: LHP Scott Kazmir (7-7, 4.02 ERA)
Kazmir is on a hot streak over his last two games in which he's defeated Cy Young winners Roger Clemens (Yankees) and Bartolo Colon (Angels) in conseutive outings. During that 13-inning span, he's allowed just one earned run, seven hits and five walks, while fanning 13.
BOS: RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (12-7, 3.79 ERA)
Last time out, Dice-K snapped a three-start slump by firing seven scoreless innings against the Indians and limiting Cleveland to four hits while fanning five. So far, he's held left-handed opponents to .208 hitting in his 21-game career.
Player to watch
B.J. Upton is hitting .431 (22-for-51) since the All-Star Break, fourth-best in the Majors.
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Official game notes
WHNZ 1250, WGES 680 (Español)
Monday: Devil Rays (Andy Sonnanstine, 1-6, 5.57) vs. Blue Jays (Dustin McGowan,7-5, 4.45) 7:10 p.m. ET
Tuesday: Devil Rays (Edwin Jackson, 2-10, 7.00) vs. Blue Jays (Jesse Litsch, 3-4, 4.01), 7:10 p.m. ET
Wednesday: Devil Rays (Jason Hammel, 1-1, 5.33) vs. Blue Jays (TBD), 3:10 p.m. ET