Daisuke Matsuzaka has a rich contract, a catchy nickname and a worldwide following of fans.
Josh Fogg, well, his last name suits him. Not sure where he came from, and it's hard to tell what's ahead.
Still, anyone who's been watching the postseason knows this: Fogg is the guy baffling batters while Dice-K has struggled to justify his hype. They'll square off Saturday night at hitter-friendly Coors Field when the World Series comes to Colorado for the first time. A big name vs. a no-name &
or at least an odd one.
Given the ball for Game 3, Matsuzaka has a chance to pitch the Boston Red Sox within one win of a championship by beating the Rockies. To do it, he'll quickly have to figure out how to handle the mile-high altitude in Denver that's caused trouble for so many pitchers through the years.
"Playing catch today and just feeling things out, I felt I might have to work a little harder on my command while I'm here," Matsuzaka said Friday through a translator. "And the one thing that I want to be particularly careful about is leaving the breaking ball up."
After scoring only twice while losing the first two games at Fenway Park, the Rockies will put their hopes in the hands of Fogg.
A 30-year-old right-hander born in Massachusetts, Fogg has been on three teams in seven major league seasons. He isn't known for having nasty stuff, but he held his spot in the rotation all season and went 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA in two playoff appearances &
one start and one relief outing. "There weren't that many opportunities for me two years ago. I didn't have a great year coming out of Pittsburgh," Fogg said. "Colorado gave me a chance."
Fogg went 10-9 with a 4.94 ERA this year, improving his career mark to 60-60 and 4.90. Pretty pedestrian numbers that might not produce a huge payday if he becomes a free agent after the season. But he proved he can beat Boston back in June, allowing two runs and seven hits over five innings for a 12-2 victory over Curt Schilling at Fenway.
"He's a horse, really. He takes the ball every fifth day. He goes out and gives you those six, seven innings every time," Colorado ace Jeff Francis said. "He gives you a chance to win every time and that's all you can ask for."
Matsuzaka has never faced the Rockies, but they know all about him.
"He has an elaborate mix of pitches. I think we've probably got five down on record," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We've seen all the tape we need to see, and now we need to see him in person."
The Red Sox paid $103 million last offseason to acquire Matsuzaka, the MVP of the 2006 World Baseball Classic for Japan. That made him the most famous rookie in baseball. He's been the center of attention all year, trailed by cameras and reporters chronicling his every move. But that hasn't bothered his Boston teammates.
"What we've tried to do is not ever have it get in the way of anything on the field," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "I think the thing that's made it easier for us is the way he's handled it. Hasn't gotten in the way, it hasn't seemed to throw him off his game, so that makes it easier for us."
After struggling in his first two playoff outings, Matsuzaka pitched five effective innings to beat Cleveland in Game 7 of the AL championship series on Sunday. That was his longest outing in the postseason.
On Friday, Matsuzaka was asked about having dinner last December at Red Sox chairman Tom Werner's house in Los Angeles. Werner showed the pitcher a replica of the World Series trophy.
"Last year when I saw the trophy, I felt that it was very beautiful and I was very moved," said Matsuzaka, who will be the first Japanese-born pitcher to start a World Series game. "At that point a lot of things were still in the air, but I definitely wanted to hold that trophy in my own hands one day."
A big performance in Game — would help.
Big name vs. odd one: Dice-K faces Fogg in Game 3 of W. Series