NEW YORK -- Daisuke Matsuzaka has pitched on the biggest stages in the world, including the 2007 World Series. Yet initially during his Mets debut on Friday night -- in his first major league game this season -- Matsuzaka confessed to feeling jitters.
"Today was my first major league start in a while, and I was a little bit more nervous than I expected to be," Matsuzaka said through interpreter Jeff Cutler after surrendering five runs over the first two innings in what became a 6-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers. "The home runs and the runs and the hits that came those two innings woke me up. From the third inning on, I was able to settle down and go back to what I worked on in the minor leagues this year, in Triple-A, and it convinced me I can keep major league batters off the bases if I continue to do what I've been doing. But, unfortunately, the first two innings decided the game, so it wasn't how I wanted it to go. But I think I was able to finish strong."
The major blow came on a two-seam fastball Miguel Cabrera launched for a three-run homer in the second inning. Matsuzaka ultimately retired the final 10 batters he faced.
"I don't think it was a bad pitch, but he hit a home run off of it," Matsuzaka said. "He's the type of batter that hits a pitch that a pitcher thinks isn't a bad pitch. It's something to learn from. It was good to be able to face a batter of his level and see how he responds to my pitches."
Matsuzaka said pitching on short rest after throwing 85 pitches for Triple-A Columbus on Monday was not a valid excuse.
"Before we agreed on my contract, I was asked if I could do that," Matsuzaka said. "I didn't even have to think about it. It was an opportunity, and I said yes immediately. It was a decision I made because I thought I could pitch on short rest. I have no excuses for it. My expectation was to pitch like any other start."
As for choosing the Mets, Matsuzaka indicated he had other suitors when he opted out of his minor league contract with the Cleveland Indians earlier this week. He chose the Mets because of the immediate ability to be inserted in a major league rotation.
"I did have other offers come my way," he said. "But my goal for this season was to finish in the major leagues. When I first opted out of my contract with Cleveland, if I had an offer from a team that was in a playoff race, that would have been great. But the Mets came, made an offer quickly and wanted me up in the big leagues now. The decision was easy. I said yes as soon as I heard about it. So it was an easy decision.
"My goal now is to pitch every five days and pitch well, and by pitching every five days and pitching well lead to [an MLB opportunity] next season. Yet I'm thinking about my next start. I'm going to be thinking about one game at a time. And I hope to improve every time I get out there."