The Daily Closer: Just Call Him A Good Pitcher And Leave It At That, OK?

Notes from a day in baseball:

Never Before Has Such A Fuss Been Made Over Beating The Royals. Dan Shaughnessy rolls out all the Daisuke Matsuzaka cliches so that you don't have to! "Dice-K was Ice K. He was also 10 K. And Special K. Maybe even a Japanese Pedro. Or a Pocket Rocket." What, no mention of the Gyro Ball? Matsuzaka struck out 10 over seven innings in his major league debut, leading Boston over Kansas City 4-1. "I can't say that my overall condition was that great today, but I think the role of a starting pitcher is to set up the game and give my teammates the opportunity to win," he said through an interpreter, whose mouth movements were not in sync with the words. "I feel like I was able to do that today, so I was satisfied." Matsuzaka (1-0) allowed six hits, including a sixth-inning homer by David DeJesus, and walked one. Manny Ramirez had an run-scoring double in the first, and Julio Lugo doubled in the fifth, stole third and scored on a throwing error. Oh, sweet fancy Moses, Shaughnessy; we just now saw this: "So go out and buy that No. 18 jersey and have a bowl of Dice Kream and top it off with a Dice-K Tini at the Ritz-Carlton." Stop. It.

First Things First. If the Nationals could just get through the first inning, things wouldn't be so bad. Jason Bergmann needed 50 pitches to get through a three-run first, as the Diamondbacks went on to a 4-3 win. Washington has been outscored 8-0 in the first inning over four games.

Oh, Alex. Maybe it's all that negative chatter that's causing Alex Rodriguez to fail in the clutch. With the bases loaded in the eighth, A-Rod popped out against rookie reliever Brian Stokes, the Devil Rays beating the Yankees 7-6 in Andy Pettitte's return to New York. Elijah Dukes hit his second homer in his second Major League game for the Devil Rays.

They're Cubtastic. We love the passed ball ... it's like the prison escape of sports. Except when it happens to the Cubs and leads to the go-ahead run, because haven' t they suffered enough? Michael Barrett's passed ball in the seventh did the damage, helping the Reds to a 5-2 win. Jeff Conine's pinch-single tied the game with two outs in the seventh. Scott Hatteberg had a two-run homer in the eighth.

We Like Mike. Mike Piazza, full-time DH. We suppose the Athletics know what they're doing, because his homer with two outs in the ninth beat the Los Angeles Angels 4-3.