Final chapter: Dice-K roughed up by rivals

Final chapter: Dice-K roughed up by rivals

Final chapter: Dice-K roughed up by rivals
NEW YORK -- Some seasons are hard to let go. For the Red Sox, this one didn't come close to falling into that category.

The final chapter -- No. 162 -- was a 14-2 loss to the Yankees on Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium, allowing Boston to bid adieu to its most disappointing season in decades.

The 2012 team finished with a 69-93 record. You'd have to go back to 1965 to find a season when the Red Sox fared worse.

The last-place finish in the American League East was Boston's first since 1992. The Red Sox lost their final eight games, not to mention 12 of their last 13, and 26 out of 33.

"It was a very disappointing season -- extremely disappointing," said manager Bobby Valentine. "It was going to end some time. I'm glad Baltimore lost before our game was over -- if that's any consolation, and I don't think it is."

With the win, the Yankees officially clinched the division title, beating the Orioles by two games, and the Red Sox by 26.

"Nobody feels worse than we do, because as a team, we obviously underachieved, didn't play as good as we were supposed to," said right fielder Cody Ross, one of the team's bright spots.

For the Red Sox, wiping the slate clean from a season marred by injuries and underperformance figures to be liberating.

Dice-K's last hurrah?
In what was likely his last appearance in a Red Sox uniform, Daisuke Matsuzaka lasted just 2 1/3 frames in Wednesday night's loss.
2007 15 12 4.4 32 204 2/3
2008 18 3 2.9 29 167 2/3
2009 4 6 5.76 12 59 1/3
2010 9 6 4.69 25 153 2/3
2011 3 3 5.3 8 37 1/3
2012 1 7 8.28 11 45 2/3
  50 37 4.52 117 668 1/3

Daisuke Matsuzaka's 117th regular-season appearance in a Red Sox uniform was likely his last. Once again, the righty had a tough night, giving up six hits and five runs over 2 1/3 innings.

In his comeback from Tommy John surgery, Matsuzaka could never find a groove, going 1-7 with an 8.28 ERA.

"The doctors and trainers have told me that whatever I lack now, I should be able to build during the offseason," Matsuzaka said. "So the rest really depends on me and how hard I work over the offseason."

The Red Sox actually jumped out first in this one when Ross drilled an RBI single to left, scoring Jacoby Ellsbury.

"Dice-K just gave up those runs early and we had to try to catch up the whole time," said Valentine. "It's probably the best I've seen Dice-K throw. It just wasn't good enough. They were swinging the bats really well and they're a very good team. Congratulations to them."

From there, it was pretty much all Yankees.

Matsuzaka's night started to go downhill in the second when Curtis Granderson clocked a three-run homer to right. Robinson Cano unloaded for a two-run shot in the third, and the Red Sox were staring at a 5-1 hole.

When Nick Swisher followed with a single to right, Valentine removed Matsuzaka from the game.

Over six seasons with the Red Sox, Matsuzaka went 50-37 with a 4.52 ERA. Matsuzaka is eligible for free agency this winter, and it doesn't appear he will be in Boston's plans for the future.

"I didn't expect the six years to end the way it did end," Matsuzaka said through interpreter Jeff Cutler. "It was really hard on me mentally for awhile now. But there were some great memories -- the first year winning the World Series was great. But I wasn't able to perform to my expectations after the first two years, so I'm really disappointed and I'm really apologetic that I wasn't able to perform to my expectations."

Matsuzaka wasn't alone. A lot of Boston's players had struggles this season.

"It wasn't what we expected, obviously, but we grew to know a lot about each other through all the hard times," said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. "That's sometimes what you've got to do to get better. We've seen each other at our worst, and we've seen each other at our best, but you know what? Through it all, we all stuck together. The last two months, being out of contention, we're just basically going out and playing hard every night. We lived and died with each other. That's exactly what happened."

The real satisfaction will happen if there's a rebound next season.

"This team is a really good team when everyone's healthy, and when we're starting with the nine that we anticipated, and the starting pitching and the relievers," said Ross. "But it didn't happen. We were bitten by that bug. It's no excuse -- everybody's bit by it. But I think we had it a little tougher than most. We have to overcome that, we weren't able to."

The 2013 Red Sox will play their first game where this season ended -- at Yankee Stadium on April 1.

Ian Browne is a reporter for Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.