Bard comes back to earth in loss to Indians

Bard comes back to earth in loss to Indians
August 2, 2011, 4:47 am
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By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON If Red Sox manager Terry Francona knew he would be telling the future, he likely would have rethought his statement.

Daniel Bard entered Mondays game against the Indians at Fenway Park with a scoreless streak of 25 games spanning 26 13 innings, the longest active streak in the majors, behind only Cliff Lees 34-inning scoreless stretch this season. The last time Bard gave up a run was in the eighth inning on May 23 in Cleveland, a go-ahead RBI double to Asdrubal Cabrera. Bard ended up taking the loss in that game, also being charged with a blown save.

Before Mondays game, Francona said of Bards shut-down run:

He might not be on a run. He might just be really good.

Then Francona acknowledged the inevitable.

Hes going to give up a run at some point, Francona said.

He just didnt know how quickly those words would come to fruition.

Bard entered Mondays game with the score tied in the eighth inning. He gave up a single to the first batter, Jason Kipnis, bringing up Cabrera, who had homered off starter John Lackey in sixth. Cabrera took a 2-1 slider from Bard and tucked it just beyond the Pesky Pole in right field. The balls quirky carom ricocheting back to the field caused some initial confusion. The umpires reviewed the hit, with crew chief Gerry Davis emerging after a few minutes from the visitors dugout signaling a home run.

Bard then got Travis Hafner to ground out before walking Carlos Santana, ending Bards night. With the loss, his record falls to 1-5, while his ERA climbed from 1.76 to 2.28.

He needs to pick it up a little bit, Francona said after the 9-6 loss, tongue planted in cheek.

Hell be right thats why we took him out, so we can get him right back out there tomorrow, not waste his pitches when were down . . . He tried to get a slider under a lefty and didnt quite get it there.

Bards streak, a career high, was the longest by a Sox reliever since Bob Stanleys 27 13 innings without giving up a run from July 29 Sept. 1, 1980. Bards 25 scoreless outings set an all-time team high.

It had to end sometime, Bard said. I had a little bit of luck to get to this point. It went longer than I thought it would, I guess, but Im trying to help the team win. Tonight I didnt do that. But as far as the streak goes, lets start a new one tomorrow.

Bard watched Cabreras drive as it bounced back to the field. On slow-motion replay the ball appeared to hit off a fan in the right field corner.

I shouldnt have made that pitch, he said. From when I saw it in person it looked like it hit off the top of the wall and kicked back in. But I guess further review showed it hit off the ladys knee. It looked like they got it right. Its still a tough call. I looked at the replay and I think the rule is it has to be overwhelming conclusive evidence and it didn't look like that off the replay. Three hitters later they showed the ladys knee on replay and it had seams on it. But the rule says conclusive evidence to overturn it. It didnt look conclusive. The replay, even when they slowed it down frame by frame, it looked like it hit off the top of the wall. You couldnt tell.

They did get it right but I dont think they went about it the right way.

The irony that Cabrera would serve as the bookends for his streak was not lost on Bard.

"Well, he's a good hitter, Bard said. He hit a really good changeup last time for the RBI. He's just a good hitter. He makes adjustments. We pitched him the same way too many times and he made us pay."

Bard entered the night having allowed just 10 earned runs in 49 appearances this season. Four of the runs came in his first outing of the season, Opening Day in Texas in two-thirds of an inning. In his streak, he virtually dominated opponents, allowing just 11 hits and six walks with 25 strikeouts, holding opponents to a .125 batting average, .181 on-base percentage, and .148 slugging percentage. His teammates had begun to take that for granted.

Yeah, you kind of do, said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Those guys come in a game and you kind of feel like, Alright, this games under control. And most of the time it is. But with him I think he still goes out there every day. I dont think he even thinks about the scoreless streak and all that stuff. Tonight he still had good stuff. They just were able to do something.

Bards line: one-third of an inning, two hits, three runs, one walk, no strikeouts, one home run, 20 pitches, 14 for strikes. Uncharacteristic for him.

"The first two hits were, the fastball might've found a little bit of the plate with the first guy, but still not a bad pitch, Bard said. Kipnis did a good job of hitting that. And the pitch to Cabrera was, I thought, a pretty good pitch. But I shook to it, and I didn't realize Lackey had thrown him quite a few of those sliders down and in. I think he was sitting on that. So, we should've probably stayed hard him with there."

As Francona mentioned, it was going to happen. Still, with the streak Bard had been on, its surprising when it does.

Yeah, hes been great, Saltalamacchia said. Its very surprising but at the same time it happens. We go 0-for-4. Pitchers give up home runs. Pitchers give up runs. It happens. Its part of the game. I dont doubt hes going to come out tomorrow and throw again and shut them down.

For others, theres an easy explanation.

Hes human, said Adrian Gonzalez. Hes going to give up runs. Its going to happen. Thats all I can say: Hes human.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen.