Bard delivers best performance as starter

620972.jpg

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.''

Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox lose, but 'celebrate anyway'

Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox lose, but 'celebrate anyway'

NEW YORK - Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 5-3 loss in New York.

 

QUOTES:

"I feel pretty good. Let's put it this way: Where we are now, I wouldn't want to play us going into the playoffs." - Red Sox principal owner John Henry

"I wanted to celebrate on that field so bad, but it is what it is. We end up being the first place team in the American League, and we're going to celebrate anyway." - David Ortiz, after the Red Sox lose on a walkoff, but clinch the division anyway.

“I’ll still be trying to hit the next four games, but if it just happens to be my last one (homer of his career), it’ll be pretty special." - Mark Teixeira, who's retiring Sunday and hit the walk-off grand slam.

 

NOTES:

* Joe Kelly became the first Red Sox pitcher to allow a walkoff grand slam since Julian Tavarez in 2006.

* Craig Kimbrel failed to record an out -- in 28 pitches -- marking the third time in 410 career appearances that that happened.

* Koji Uehara posted his 14th straight scoreless appearance.

* Brad Ziegler hasn't allowed an earned run in his last 19 appearances.

* Dustin Pedroia has scored five runs and knocked in seven in his last five games.

* Mookie Betts posted his major league-leading 66th multi-hit game.

* Clay Buchholz has a 2.63 ERA in his last seven starts.

* The one hit allowed by Buchholz marks the fewest hits allowed by him in a non-injury-shortened game since his no-hitter in 2007.

* The win marked only the second time the Red Sox have clinched the A.L. East away from home. The other time was in Cleveland in 1998.

 

STARS:

1) Mark Teixeira

The first baseman is going out in style. In the final week of his career, he hit his second game-winning homer of the week, with Wednesday's being a walk-off grand slam.

2) Clay Buchholz

Buchholz was brilliant, allowing three baserunners -- an infield hit and two walks -- in six shutout innings.

3) Mookie Betts

Betts delivered what appeared to be the game's biggest blow -- a two-run chopped double in the eighth to break open a scoreless tie.