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Byrd Feels He Can ‘Absolutely’ Contribute in Playoffs

09.28.09 at 2:01 am ET
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NEW YORK — Paul Byrd absorbed the loss for the Red Sox in Sunday’s 4-2 setback in New York, and so his record after six starts stands at 1-3 with a 5.81 ERA. Yet those numbers may be at least somewhat misleading. 

On Sunday, for instance, Byrd left the game with the Sox leading, 2-1, two runners on base and two outs. But reliever Takashi Saito allowed both inherited runners to score, resulting in a loss for Byrd and Boston. 

Byrd may have made his last start of the regular season on Sunday. The Sox are 3-3 in his six starts. The right-hander said that he was extremely pleased with the way he was throwing the ball, even if disappointed in his results.

“[Sox pitching coach] John Farrell has got me twisting, rotating a little bit more. It’s been phenomenal for me,” said Byrd. “I’m throwing the ball upper 80s. I threw 90 two times the last game (a start last Tuesday against the Royals) in the sixth inning. On teams past, I hit 90 and we throw a team party. My velocity is up. My location is up. I feel like no one is squaring the ball up too often.”

Byrd started a game in which the Sox beat the Angels at Fenway Park. He also pitched well enough for the Sox to beat the Yankees in their home park. 

Based on his performance, Byrd is hopeful that he might have an opportunity to continue to contribute for Boston in the postseason, most likely as a long man in the bullpen (a role that Byrd served for the Sox in the ALCS last year). He acknowledges that the Sox have a deep and talented staff, but the 38-year-old – who is 3-1 with a 5.40 ERA in eight career playoff appearances – believes he would be a useful arm.

“Can I help the team in the postseason? Absolutely. Do I have the experience? Absolutely. Am I throwing the ball well right now? Yes, I believe so, despite giving up a few runs,” said Byrd. “I’m here to help out in any way I can. If that means I cheerlead the first series and get ready for the second series, or if it means vice versa, I’m here to help this team win in any way I can and get a ring. That’s just the bottom line.”

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