On Bard's (maybe) big move


On Bard's (maybe) big move

With yesterday's Ankiel-like performance in Toronto, questions surrounding Daniel Bard's spot in the Red Sox rotation are spinning faster than Donnie Sadler around the base paths. In fact, according to Rob Bradford at WEEI.com, the Sox are more focused than ever on picking up another starter and sending No. 51 back to the pen.

On one hand, the idea of Bard in the bullpen especially in light of his mediocre (at best) stint in the rotation is as exciting as ever.

In this scenario, if all goes to plan, the Sox will get Andrew Bailey back around the All-Star break and eventually have some combination of him, Bard, Crazy Alfredo and Franklin Morales handling duties in the seventh, eighth and ninth, while Vincente Padilla and Scott Atchinson fill in gaps along the way.

Considering there were times this season when we feared the Sox might have one of the worst bullpens in baseball, I'd say the above arrangement at least on paper is pretty sweet. If Beckett and Lester can stay on point, Buchholz can build off this recent resurgence and Doubront can keep on keeping on, throwing Bard into the bullpen with those other arms could be the piece that takes this pitching staff to another level. Combine that with an offense that's scored the second most runs in baseball and should only get better as the season wears on and . . .

We'll see.

For now, let's get back to Bard and one important question:

At this point, are we even sure that merely moving Bard to the bullpen will solve his pitching woes? That a new role and a quick snap of the fingers will erase all the issues that contributed to literally one of the worst outings in more than 100 years of baseball history?

After all, it's not like Bard was exactly tearing it up in his last stint as a reliever. He was awful in September. He was the worst pitcher on the staff, and that's saying something. That's like being the dumbest guy in a New York Jets fan club.

As a result, despite all the on-paper optimism, I think we're at the point where moving Bard to the pen is as much about getting him out of the rotation as it is bolstering the bullpen. And that any hopes that he'll be a factor down the stretch should be put on hold until he proves otherwise.

And if all else fails, maybe Bobby V. should give Bard a whirl in center field.

It worked for Ankiel.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Red Sox celebration quickly washes away walk-off loss

Red Sox celebration quickly washes away walk-off loss

NEW YORK -- It had the potential to be the most awkward celebration ever.

In the top of the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium, before their game was complete, the Red Sox became American League East champions, by virtue of one other division rival -- Baltimore -- coming back to beat another -- Toronto -- in the ninth inning.

That eliminated the Blue Jays from the division race, and made the Sox division champs.

But that ninth inning reversal of fortune was about to visit the Red Sox, too.

Craig Kimbrel faced four hitters and allowed a single and three straight walks, leading to a run. When, after 28 pitches, he couldn't get an out, he was lifted for Joe Kelly, who recorded one out, then yielded a walk-off grand slam to Mark Teixeira.

The Yankees celebrated wildly on the field, while the Red Sox trudged into the dugout, beset with mixed emotions.

Yes, they had just lost a game that seemed theirs. But they also had accomplished something that had taken 158 games.

What to do?

The Sox decided to drown their temporary sorrows in champagne.

"As soon as we got in here,'' said Jackie Bradley Jr., "we quickly got over it.''

From the top of the eighth until the start of the bottom of the ninth, the Red Sox seemed headed in a conventional celebration.

A two-run, bases-loaded double by Mookie Betts and a wild pitch -- the latter enabling David Ortiz to slide into home and dislodge the ball from former teammate Tommy Layne's glove --- had given the Sox a 3-0 lead.

Koji Uehara worked around a walk to post a scoreless walk and after the top of the ninth, the Sox called on Craig Kimbrel, who had successfully closed out all but two save opportunities all season.

But Kimbrel quickly allowed a leadoff single to Brett Gardner and then began pitching as though he forgot how to throw strikes. Three straight walks resulted in a run in and the bases loaded.

Joe Kelly got an out, but then Teixeira, for the second time this week, produced a game-winning homer in the ninth. On Monday, he had homered in Toronto to turn a Blue Jays win into a loss, and now, here he was again.

It may have been a rather meaningless victory for the Yankees -- who remain barely alive for the wild card -- but it did prevent them the indignity of watching the Red Sox celebrate on their lawn.

Instead, the Sox wore the shame of the walk-off -- at least until they reached their clubhouse, where the partying began in earnest.

It had taken clubhouse attendants less than five minutes to cover the floor and lockers with plastic protective sheets. In a matter of a few more minutes, the air was filled with a mix of beer and bubbly.

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski wore a goggles and only socks on his feet.

As the spray reached every inch of the clubhouse, David Ortiz exclaimed: "I'm going to drown in this man.''

Defeat? What defeat?