1. The Dice-K we were waiting for: After all the preseason hype and promising first start, Daisuke Matsuzaka was plagued by a streak of poor outings. But to start off a series between AL heavyweights (Red Sox vs. Tigers), Dice-K gave his best effort yet. He threw his first MLB complete game, gave up just one run, and threw a whopping 124 pitches in the Red Sox’s 7-1 win. The victory gave the Red Sox an 8.5 game division lead, their largest since 1995, and they have the best record in the league at 26-11. This four-game series at Fenway should be one of the more entertaining so far this year. The Tigers will send Justin Verlander to the mound on Tuesday to face AL ERA leader Tim Wakefield.
2. Nearly a no-hitter: The Braves-Nationals game featured a pitching matchup of 18-year vet John Smoltz and first-year starter Jason Bergmann. Surprisingly, it was Bergmann who delivered a gem: 8 innings, 2 hits, and 10 strikeouts. He no-hit the Braves until the 8th inning, when Brian McCann hit a solo homer. Smoltz wasn’t bad either, but the Braves couldn’t muster any offense in a 2-1 loss. The win extends a season-high four-game win streak for the 13-25 Nationals, and Bergmann’s start was the highlight of their season so far. Atlanta’s loss combined with a Mets win puts New York back in first.
3. All About the Pitchers: This season has been dominated by pitching, and yesterday continued that trend. Dice-K and Bergmann were great, as well as Greg Maddux, Dan Haren, Gil Meche, and Tom Gorzelanny. Maddux pitched a complete-game with one run allowed in the Padres’ 7-1 win over Cincinnati. Meche and Haren pitched a combined 15 scoreless innings in the Royals-A’s game, giving both pitchers an ERA under 2.00. The Royals won on a ninth-inning homerun by John Buck. The surprising Gorzelanny improved to 5-2 with a 2.36 ERA after seven shutout innings in a win over the Marlins. In other pitching news, the Angels’ Jered Weaver returned to form with a great start against the Rangers, which lowered his ERA from 4.26 to 3.62.
Player of the Day: JJ Hardy, Brewers: 2-5, HR, 3 RBIs in a 6-8 loss to the Phillies. This is more of a season-achievement award for Hardy, who now leads the National League with 12 homers and 37 RBIs. It is hard to even imagine a more surprising start than that of Hardy, who already has set his career high for homeruns.