CLEVELAND -- For Victor Martinez, it was a homecoming, and a reunion.
The Red Sox catcher played his first game in Cleveland since being traded last July from the only organization he'd known, and he also was behind the plate for pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, whom he had not caught since May 17.
"This city was great for me, my family,'' he said after Boston's 4-1 win over his former team. "The organization was great to me and my family. We're going to remember this city, this team, the rest of our lives.''
Martinez greeted old friends, including the host family with whom he stayed in Warren, Ohio, when he first came to the United States and played in the minor leagues. He also doubled, singled, hit a sacrifice fly, threw out a runner attempting to steal, and, most importantly, went a long way to bury the notion that he and Matsuzaka cannot work together.
Matsuzaka, who came into the game with an 11.05 ERA in the three starts in which Martinez caught, went eight scoreless innings in Boston's 4-1 win over the Indians Monday night. He allowed just one runner as far as second base, that in the first inning, while allowing six hits, all singles. He struck out five and walked two before yielding to Daniel Bard, who gave up a ninth-inning home run to Austin Kearns.
"Things happen,'' Martinez said about coming to an understanding with Matsuzaka. "I worked a lot of times with CC [Sabathia], Fausto [Carmona], Jake Westbrook, 30-something starts [when he was with Cleveland]. You're not going to be on the same page all starts. I just got here last year. I keep trying to know him the best I can.
"I mean, he threw the ball great. It's all on him. I just put suggestions. If he doesn't like it, he has the right to say no. Sometimes, like I say, if you don't agree, you're not going to throw a pitch just because I call it. He was throwing the ball great. Today was a good example, from the first pitch on.''
The win had special significance for Matsuzaka. Counting the 108 games he won professionally in Japan, he became the fastest Japanese pitcher to reach 150 wins for his career, beating the previous record holder, Fumiya Nishiguchi.
After the game, Matsuzaka made a point of retrieving the ball used for the final out.
"Yeah, I wanted to go out there and get the ball,'' he said through interpreter Masa Hoshino, "not really for me, but for my third child. I haven't had a chance to get a big game-winning ball that's for her.''
He elicited laughs from the Japanese media when asked about passing Nishiguchi. "The only thing I can say is I'm happy I got there quick. I'll give him a call tonight to let him know I did it.''
But Matsuzaka, who eschewed his slider to throw almost exclusively fastballs and cutters, was all business when he acknowledged that he and Martinez had made some progress.
"For me to pitch consistently, I need to be in a good rhythm and pitch at a good tempo,'' he said. "That's something I needed to talk to Victor about. We were able to do that between these starts. I think that was good today.''
Gordon Edes is ESPNBoston.com's Red Sox reporter. He has covered the Red Sox for 12 years and has reported on baseball for 25 years. Ask a question for his next mailbag here.