Bard's late-inning control problems doom Red Sox

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Bard's late-inning control problems doom Red Sox

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."

Sale on the latest JBJ spectacular catch: 'What's wrong with that guy?'

Sale on the latest JBJ spectacular catch: 'What's wrong with that guy?'

The catches are becoming routine but that doesn't make them any less spectacular.

"'What's wrong with that guy?'" is what Chris Sale asked third baseman Brock Holt after they watched Jackie Bradley Jr. turn what surely looked like an extra base hit off the bat by the Angels' Yunel Escobar into another highlight-reel grab in the first inning of the Red Sox' 6-2 victory over the Angels in Anaheim on Friday night. 

"I literally, I looked at Brock and said, 'What's wrong with that guy?'" Sale told reporters, including MassLive.com's Jen McCaffrey. "It just seems like once he makes a great catch, it's like, all right, that's the best one. And then he makes another one, and ok, that's the best one now. It just seems like he's always raising the bar. It's fun to watch."

Less than a week after robbing the Yankees' Aaron Judge of a home run with his catch in the triangle at Fenway (below), Bradley explained yet another spectacular catch, this time to NESN's Jamai Webster.  

“Off the bat, it was well hit,” Bradley Jr. told Webster “Head[ed] towards the gap, I believe he had two strikes on him, so I was playing him toward the opposite field a little bit. I took off, tried to gauge as much as I possibly can, tried to time up my steps to try to make a leap...I wanted to go for it.”

"That's a big-time play by a big-time player," Sale said. 

"I don't know if you expect it, but I guess we're starting to, especially with what they're doing out there," Sale said. "Those guys, all four [outfielder, Bradley, Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi and Chris Young], they work as hard as anybody, and they cover a lot of ground. I've said it before, it feels like we have four outfielders out there sometimes playing in the same game. It definitely doesn't go unnoticed by us as pitchers, and I think our whole team appreciates the effort all the way around."

On Twitter, JBJ's play drew an "Angels In The Outfield" comparison from fellow center fielder Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles.