ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. Two balks were charged to Daniel Bard in Kansas City last week. Then came one in the second inning with Clay Buchholz. Finally, there were two more called on reliever Franklin Morales one in the seventh, one in the eighth.
"I don't get it," said Bobby Valentine Wednesday following the Red Sox' 21 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. "It's like an epidemic."
The Sox have been called for six balks this season five in the last eight games alone which are the most for any team in the American League.
Buchholz was called when he stumbled attempting to make a fake-to-third-throw-to-first pickoff move; his cleat stuck in the dirt on the mound.
"He kind of tripped off the mound," said Valentine. "It was a balk. I was watching the runner and I kind of caught it out of the corner of my eye. It looked like a balk to me. I don't get it.
"I don't know if he caught his foot in his pants or what. I didn't bother to ask because I don't think I'll ever see it again. Crazy."
As for Morales, Valentine thought he detected a double-stop in his delivery with runners on base.
"It's a surprise, yeah," said pitching coach Bob McClure of the rash of balks being called on his staff. "But I'm not going to make a big deal out of it. We'll just take a deep breath with runners on base."
McClure said the six balks committed by the staff "have all been kind of different. We'll probably go two months and not have another one."
McClure saw Morales in Colorado, where his pickoff move was so good, opposing teams swore he was balking.
"It's not a balk," said McClure of the move. "We've looked at it on video many times and obviously, so have the umpires, and they don't call it because it's not a balk. It's just a good move."
"I don't think it's something we have to (work on)," said Valentine. "I mean, Bob (McClure) will address it, sure, but I haven't ever gotten gun shy about balks. But I don't know."