Bard delivers best performance as starter

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Bard delivers best performance as starter

CHICAGO -- Daniel Bard's last appearance as a starting pitcher was back on April 15, and since then, it seems like all of New England has been debating his role.

Moreover, Bard had a long layoff with a relief outing and a few side sessions mixed in.

But if there were any doubts as to how Bard would deal with his regular routine interrupted, he erased them with his performance. In what was clearly the best of his starts to date, Bard limited the Chicago White Sox to two earned runs in seven innings as the Red Sox win streak stretched to five straight with a 10-3 beating of the White Sox.

"As a reliever, you kind of learn to be flexible,'' said Bard, who earned his first win as a starter. "Sometimes, you threw the day before; sometimes, you haven't thrown in four or five days. You learn that your arm's going to feel a little bit different every time out and you just kind of learn to adjust.

"I guess that's the benefit I have, of having that experience as a reliever. I felt good today, physically.''

"I've been very impressed with his focus,'' said Bobby Valentine. "Those things (the skipped start, relief outing) could have gotten him mentally out of touch with his start tonight.''

Bard allowed a run in the first on two doubles, another in the third that was unearned after an error by Kevin Youkilis and an infield single off his hand. But over his final four innings of
work, he allowed just one baserunner -- Paul Konerko's solo homer with two out in the fifth. He retired 13 of the final 14 hitters he faced and manager Bobby Valentine said he would have been inclined to allow Bard to pitch a complete game had it not been so cold, and the Red Sox not provided him with some long innings in the dugout.

Bard got ahead with most hitters, changed speeds on his slider and made a mental adjustment that allowed him to have far better command. After walking seven in his last start, he walked just one hitter Friday.

"There are a few ticks in your delivery that you kind of find as the season goes on that allow you to kind of stay in check,'' said Bard. "I'd been missing high and to the arm side when I was tired, and now I have something that kind of locks me back in that I hadn't really incorporated before. It's just a little mental cue for me that I hadn't quite figured out the last couple of starts.''

"We've seen an evolution (in Bard as a starter),'' said Valentine. "The first time we looked at him, we worried whether he could have a windup. He got through the windup and we worried about (him having) a third pitch. He got through the third pitch, and we worried about his ability to go more than 60 pitches. He just keeps progressing.''

Former Red Sox prospect Andy Marte killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

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Former Red Sox prospect Andy Marte killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

Former major leaguer Andy Marte, a one-time top prospect in the Red Sox organization, was killed in a car crash in the Dominican Republic on Sunday. He was 33.

Marte was killed the same day that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a separate car crash in the Dominican. Ventura was 25. Coincidentally, Ventura was the Royals starting pitcher in Marte's final major league game, for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 6, 2014.

Marte, drafted by the Braves in 2000, was ranked the No. 9 prospect in baseball in 2005 when the third baseman was traded to the Red Sox as part of the deal that sent shortstop Edgar Renteria to Atlanta and Marte became the top-ranked prospect in the Red Sox organization.  

Marte was traded by the Red Sox to the Indians in 2006 in the deal that sent Coco Crisp to Boston and spent five seasons with Cleveland. His best season was 2009 (.232, six home runs, 25 RBI in 47 games). After a six-game stint with Arizona in 2014, he played in South Korea the past two years.  

Metropolitan traffic authorities in the Dominican told the Associated Press that Marte died when a car he was driving his a house along the highway between San Francisco de Macoris and Pimentel, about 95 miles (150 kilometers) north of the capital.
 

Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

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Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car crash in in the Dominican Republic on Sunday morning, according to multiple reports. Ventura was 25 years old.

Highway patrol spokesman Jacobo Mateo told the Associated Press that Ventura died on a highway leading to the town of Juan Adrian, about 40 miles (70 kilometers) northwest of Santo Domingo. He says it's not clear if Ventura was driving.

Ventura was killed the same day former major leaguer Andy Marte died in a separate car crash in the Dominican. Coincidentally, Ventura was the starting pitcher in Marte's final MLB game, for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 6, 2014. 

Ventura was 13-8 with a 4.08 ERA for the Royals' 2015 World Series champions and 11-12 with a 4.45 ERA in 32 starts in 2016. The right-hander made his major league debut in 2013 and in 2014 went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA for Kansas City's A.L. pennant winners. 

Ironically, Ventura paid tribute to his good friend and fellow Dominican, Oscar Tavares, who was also killed in a car crash in the D.R. in October 2014, by wearing Tavares' initials and R.I.P. on his cap before Ventura's start in Game 6 of the World Series in 2014. 

Ventura is the second current major league player to die in the past five months. Former Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident in Miami on Sept. 25.