Bard doesn't dazzle but he'll take result


Bard doesn't dazzle but he'll take result

BOSTON Daniel Bard was not at his sharpest, but he was good enough to get the win. And he figures that over the course of a season, there will be enough games like Sundays to balance off the games where his performance is much better but he gets nothing to show for it.

Bard went six innings, giving up one run on six hits and four walks with two strikeouts. His record improved to 3-4, while his ERA dropped from 4.83 to 4.30.

Bard needed just seven pitches to retire the Indians in order in the first. But, staked to a four-run lead after the first, Bards per-inning pitch count quickly rose: 21 in the second, 29 in the third, 75 in the fourth. He finished with 97 (58 strikes).

You keep talking about building on things, and Daniels a new starter, said manager Bobby Valentine. His stuff today was not as good as some of the other stuff when hes gone out there. He battled thru some innings and some situations and I think thats a great day of learning, a great stepping stone for him. He did everything we needed him to do.

It could have been a long home half of the first that affected him. The Sox batted around in the inning, (the first of two such innings along with the six-run seventh), when six consecutive batters reached base with two outs.

After two quick innings, giving up just a lead-off walk in the second, Bard struggled in the third. With one out he gave up a nine-pitch walk to No. 9 hitter Jack Hannahan, a four-pitch walk to Johnny Damon, a single to Jason Kipnis, and another four-pitch walk to Asdrubal Cabrera to drive in a run.

Bard appeared on his way to significant trouble, but he got Travis Hafner to ground into a double play to end the inning.

Felt really good in the first two innings, just pounding the zone and executing pitches, he said. The third inning wasnt pretty by any means. Just one of those things where you had a couple of long sits between innings and you kind of lose feel for the release point on the fastball. Its happened to me before and itll probably happen again. Its just a matter of grinding thru it and finding something you can throw for a strike.

For me it was the off-speed got me back into some good counts and I think I grindeda long at-bat there, I cant remember who was hitting, one of the lefties Hannahan. But just finding something you can throw for a strike and finding a way to get thru it because I knew if I could get thru that and limit the damage there, then I could get back on track and thats kind of what I did.

For Bard, each start is a learning experience.

Today was a step backwards in a few ways, he said. Fastball command was not great all day but it forced me to use the changeup and use the breaking ball and that's what kept me in the game and kept them off balance just enough. Its one of those days where you just say, Fastballs not going to work. Im not going to locate it. I just need to be in the zone with it and throw enough off-speed stuff where it doesnt have to be perfect.And thats kind of what I was able to do. Its tough facing nine lefties. You just got to find a way to grind it and keep them swinging.

An outing like this one, with a W next to his name, is a trade-off for those days where his performance is much better and he doesnt get rewarded.

I felt really good the first start of the year against the Blue Jays and didnt have much results to show for it, he said. And I think the same againstthe Royals on May 8, the same thing. Felt really good and throwing three pitches well and the final line here doesnt look that great. So I think you have to have the outings like today where I feel like I was out there just grinding from the third inning on, but still the end line looks pretty good. So I think you got to have these type of outings to offset those ones where you feel good and the numbers arent great.

NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945


NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945

CHICAGO -- Cursed by a Billy Goat, bedeviled by Bartman and crushed by decades of disappointment, the Chicago Cubs are at long last headed back to the World Series.

Kyle Hendricks outpitched Clayton KershawAnthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras homered early and the Cubs won their first pennant since 1945, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 Saturday night in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series.

The drought ended when closer Aroldis Chapman got Yasiel Puig to ground into a double play, setting off a wild celebration inside Wrigley Field, outside the ballpark and all over the city.

Seeking their first crown since 1908, manager Joe Maddon's team opens the World Series at Cleveland on Tuesday night. The Indians haven't won it all since 1948 - Cleveland and Cubs have the two longest title waits in the majors.

"This city deserves it so much," Rizzo said. "We got four more big ones to go, but we're going to enjoy this. We're going to the World Series. I can't even believe that."

All-everything Javier Baez and pitcher Jon Lester shared the NLCS MVP. Baez hit .318, drove in five runs and made several sharp plays at second base. Lester, a former World Series champion in Boston, was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers.

Deemed World Series favorites since opening day, the Cubs topped the majors with 103 wins to win the NL Central, then beat the Giants and Dodgers in the playoffs.

The Cubs overcame a 2-1 deficit against the Dodgers and won their 17th pennant. They had not earned a World Series trip since winning a doubleheader opener 4-3 at Pittsburgh on Sept. 29, 1945, to clinch the pennant on the next-to-last day of the season.

The eternal "wait till next year" is over. No more dwelling on a history of failure - the future is now.

"We're too young. We don't care about it," star slugger Kris Bryant said. "We don't look into it. This is a new team, this is a completely different time of our lives. We're enjoying it and our work's just getting started."

Hendricks pitched two-hit ball for 7 1/3 innings. Chapman took over and closed with hitless relief, then threw both arms in the air as he was mobbed by teammates and coaches.

The crowd joined in, chanting and serenading their team.

"Chicago!" shouted popular backup catcher David Ross.

The Cubs shook off back-to-back shutout losses earlier in this series by pounding the Dodgers for 23 runs to win the final three games.

And they were in no way overwhelmed by the moment on Saturday, putting aside previous frustration.

In 1945, the Billy Goat Curse supposedly began when a tavern owner wasn't allowed to bring his goat to Wrigley. In 2003, the Cubs lost the final three games of the NLCS to Florida, punctuated with a Game 6 defeat when fan Steve Bartman deflected a foul ball.

Even as recently as 2012, the Cubs lost 101 times.

This time, no such ill luck.

Bryant had an RBI single and scored in a two-run first. Dexter Fowler added two hits, drove in a run and scored one.

Contreras led off the fourth with a homer. Rizzo continued his resurgence with a solo drive in the fifth.

That was plenty for Hendricks, the major league ERA leader.

Hendricks left to a standing ovation after Josh Reddick singled with one out in the eighth. The only other hit Hendricks allowed was a single by Andrew Toles on the game's first pitch.

Kershaw, dominant in Game 2 shutout, gave up five runs and seven hits before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth. He fell to 4-7 in the postseason.

The Dodgers haven't been to the World Series since winning in 1988.

Pitching on five days' rest, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner threw 30 pitches in the first. Fowler led off with a double, and Bryant's single had the crowd shaking the 102-year-old ballpark.

They had more to cheer when left fielder Andrew Toles dropped Rizzo's fly, putting runners on second and third, and Ben Zobrist made it 2-0 a sacrifice fly.

The Cubs added a run in the second when Addison Russell doubled to deep left and scored on a two-out single by Fowler.


Maddon benched slumping right fielder Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.

"Kershaw's pitching, so I wanted to get one more right-handed bat in the lineup, and also with Albert I don't feel like we're losing anything on defense," Maddon said. "I know Jason's a Gold Glover, but I think Albert, given an opportunity to play often enough would be considered a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder, too."

Heyward was 2 for 28 in the playoffs - 1 for 16 in the NLCS.


Kerry Wood, wearing a Ron Santo jersey, threw out the first pitch and actor Jim Belushi delivered the "Play Ball!" call before the game. Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder and actor John Cusack were also in attendance. And Bulls great Scottie Pippen led the seventh-inning stretch.