BOSTON -- You can clearly point the finger in this one.
Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka was simply awful, and the Tampa Bay Rays completely took advantage of the right-hander, pounding Boston into oblivion en route to a 16-5 victory Monday night at Fenway Park.
Tampa banged out a total of 20 hits against Red Sox pitchers.
Matsuzaka allowed seven runs on eight hits with two walks and two strikeouts in only two innings, plus two batters in the third. He surrendered two home runs and finished with 47 pitches, 32 strikes.
What makes Matsuzaka’s awful performance worse is the fact it piggybacked a masterful outing by fellow starter Josh Beckett, who worked eight scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts in a 4-0 win over the New York Yankees on Sunday night.
Matsuzaka had a chance to give the Red Sox some momentum against the lowly Rays, but he failed miserably.
Veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield came in relief and allowed five runs on seven hits in 3 1/3 innings.
With the loss, the Red Sox and Rays are both 2-8. In case you’re interested, the Minnesota Twins began the 1991 season with a 2-9 record and went on to win the World Series.
COMING AROUND: Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis was limited to 102 games in 2010 due to a muscle tear in his right thumb. He suffered the injury in August and needed season-ending surgery. He entered spring training healthy and ready to go, but has struggled at the plate for the regular season. He entered Monday’s game with a .148 average and only two RBIs.
During batting practice, team trainers examined Youkilis' right hand for a few minutes, but he returned to the cage. He went 1-for-3, including a double and two walks. In his fourth plate appearance, he stepped into the box with the bases loaded and barreled up the ball, but smoked a liner right at Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist, who was able to double-up Dustin Pedroia at second.
TRIPLE THREAT: Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz each hit a triple for the Red Sox. Gonzalez collected his in the bottom of the third inning, driving home Pedroia with a shot to right field. It was Gonzalez’s first triple since Sept. 13, 2009 against the Rockies.
Ortiz smoked a shot to deep center field to lead off the bottom of the fourth. It appeared the ball had enough to get out, but it hit the wall, allowing Ortiz to reach third. With that shot, he becomes the only AL player with at least one triple in the last 12 seasons.
The Phillies’ Jimmy Rollins needs a triple this season to match Ortiz’s mark in the NL.
DAMON RETURNS: Once again, former Royals, Athletics, Red Sox, Yankees, Tigers and now Rays outfielder center Johnny Damon returned to Fenway Park. This time, he made his Tampa debut and he didn’t disappoint. He went 3-for-4 with a walk. He hit a solo home run off Matsuzaka in the top of the first inning, and followed that with a pair of singles. There was a mixture of boos and cheers for the one-time fan favorite.
FULD’S FLOOD: Tampa’s Sam Fuld, a native of Durham, N.H., fell a single shy of the cycle. He went 4-for-6, including a home run, triple and a pair of doubles. His four hits and three RBIs are both career highs.
UP NEXT: It’ll be a battle of the southpaws Tuesday night at Fenway. The Red Sox send Jon Lester (0-0, 3.65 ERA) to the mound against the Rays’ David Price (0-2, 4.85). Lester is 9-3 with a 3.80 ERA in 16 career starts against Tampa.