Whatever his former manager told Boston's Daisuke Matsuzaka before his last appearance, it evidently worked, with Matsuzaka having thrown a gem and predicting that his previous ups and downs are now behind him.
Matsuzaka now sets his sights on San Diego, where a huge park, no designated hitter and a somewhat suspect opposition offense sets the stage for another nice outing, something perhaps along the lines of the mere three hits he surrendered in seven shutout innings in Boston's 1-0 win over Barry Bonds and the Giants last week.
Matsuzaka's performance -- which included eight strikeouts -- reduced his ERA to 4.18 as he notched his eighth win, all under the watchful eye of former manager Osamu Higashio. Higashio, an ex-pitcher, sat in the stands behind homeplate after giving Matsuzaka a tip or two on how to return to the familiar form that had formerly made him perhaps Japan's best all-around starter.
Higashio -- Matsuzaka's skipper with the Seibu Lions from 1999-2001 -- knows his former player better than anyone else in baseball, here or abroad. Matsuzaka is too discreet to admit it, but Higashio's words of wisdom helped him cast off some newly acquired bad habits picked up from the Red Sox coaching staff. Check it out.