Bard's late-inning control problems doom Red Sox

Bard's late-inning control problems doom Red Sox
May 9, 2012, 4:39 am
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KANSAS CITY -- Part of becoming an established starting pitcher is learning how to finish what you start.

Daniel Bard thought he was going to do that Tuesday night. Instead, some sudden wildness cost Bard the chance to go deeper into the game, and ultimately, cost the Red Sox the game.

Bard had limited the Kansas City Royals to three runs over the first seven innings, and after a shaky second, had allowed just three hits -- all singles -- from the third through the seventh.

But in the eighth inning, feeling some fatigue, Bard lost the strike zone, issuing two walks to open the inning and leaving a mess for Matt Albers to clean up. Albers surrendered a three-run homer to Billy Butler, sending the Sox to a 6-4 defeat.

Bard had thrown 87 pitches after seven and was eager to continue.

"I felt great," said Bard. "I felt strong. You get to 90 pitches, I'm not tired to the point where I need to come out of the game by any means. But there is a fatigue that sets in. It's about learning how to pitch with that little bit of fatigue.

"It's not my arm. My arm felt great. It's your whole body -- your legs, your lower back. You have to learn how to pitch under those conditions. It's kind of where I'm at right now -- trying to learn how to finish games and get through that 100-110 pitches, strong all the way toward the end instead of tailing off and losing command late."

Bard could feel himself coming out of his normal delivery with the two walks.

"I was trying to do too much," he said. "I kind of smelled the finish line and wanted to get that win for our team really bad. I just tried to do a little too much with those pitches and maybe didn't trust them to the middle of the zone like I had been."

If the eighth inning was Bard's doing, then surely the second inning was his most bizarre. He was charged with two balks -- one scored a run and another led to a second run being scored -- while walking one and throwing a wild pitch.

"I chalked it up to just being a fluke thing," said Bard of the balks. "It sucks that they got three runs out of it; they probably get one or two there either way, even without them. I just tried to settle back in. I knew I was making good pitches and I wasn't going to let that take me out of my game completely."

From there, Bard seemed to get groundouts in bunches. From the third through the seventh, he got 10 of the 12 outs on the ground. Those outs helped Bard be more efficient with his pitch count.

"Mostly fastballs in," revealed Bard. "Sinkers to righties, and four-seamers in to lefties. It's a little weird, to be honest, because I'm used to getting punch-outs regularly, usually about one per inning or so. But I'll take outs anyway I can get them."