Closing Time: Blue Jays ruin Daniel Bard’s starting debut
|04.10.12 at 10:27 pm ET|
Bard made 192 big league appearances before making his first start, an organizational record. It marked the first time since 1988 four homegrown pitchers had made up the Red Sox’ rotation. And, most intriguing, was the mere fact the team was taking one of the game’s top relievers and putting him in as a starter.
Unfortunately for the Red Sox, by the end of the night, the uniqueness had worn off and reality had once again set in.
The Sox lost their fourth game in five tries this season, this time dropping a 7-3 decision to the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. The good news was that it wasn’t entirely Bard’s fault, with the pitcher performing respectively in his initial start, allowing five runs over five innings. The line was somewhat deceiving considering the right left the game having surrendered just three runs over his five frames, striking out six and walking one. But when reliever Justin Thomas came on to allow both of his inherited runners to score — along with a run of his own — punctuation was put on Bard’s outing, and the Red Sox’ chances.
Here is what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox’ loss:
WHAT WENT WRONG
– Thomas struggled in his second outing with the Red Sox, giving up a key, two-run single to J.P. Arencibia, along with Colby Rasmus’ sacrifice fly. The lefty, whom Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine had hoped would be able to retire left-handed hitters Eric Thames and Rasmus in getting out of the sixth-inning jam, has now allowed three of his four inherited runners to score.
– The Red Sox were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position. Entering the game, the Sox had been respectable in such situations, carrying a .297 batting average.
– For the most part, the Sox had a hard time figuring out Toronto starter Kyle Drabek. The Blue Jays’ righty — who was one of the key components in the Roy Halladay trade — held the visitors scoreless through the first five innings. He completed his 5 1/3-inning outing having allowed just three hits and one run, throwing 91 pitches.
– The middle of the Red Sox’ bullpen wasn’t able to impress like it had the previous two days, with Thomas and Michael Bowden allowing the game to slip away in the late-innings. Bowden, who pitched two innings, fell victim to an Edwin Encarnacion home run in the seventh inning.
– The Red Sox allowed the Jays to steal three bases in three attempts. Toronto is now 28-for-36 against the Sox in stolen base attempts since the beginning of last season. No team has had as many steals, or attempts, against the Red Sox during that stretch.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
– Kevin Youkilis, who came into the game without a hit, responded with a double and single. “For me personally, I’ve just got to get through it,” the third baseman said before the game. “If I can just keep seeing pitches and feeling comfortable in the box, it will all come around.’
– Overall, Bard’s outing was encouraging. The righty was able to show good velocity (topping out at 98 mph) while getting 18 swings and misses. The pitch count was higher than he would have liked — finishing with 96 pitches (65 strikes) — resulting in the early exit. But the righty certainly showed enough to pique interest on what kind of starter he might develop into.
– Adrian Gonzalez continued the Red Sox’ propensity to score ninth-inning runs, lofting a two-run, two-out double to right field in the final inning.
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