By Maureen Mullen
CLEVELAND Daniel Bard calmly answered reporters questions after Mondays 3-2 loss to the Indians. But his frustration, if not spoken, was evident.
Bard entered the game with one out and the tying run on second base. He got his first batter, pinch-hitter Carlos Santana to pop up to Kevin Youkilis for the second out. But Michael Brantleys single to right field on a 2-and-2 pitch scored pinch-runner Adam Everett tying the game, with Brantley taking second on the throw home.
The next batter was Asdrubal Cabrera, currently one of if not the -- hottest hitters in baseball. He doubled off the wall in left-center, on a 1-and-0, 96-mph fastball, scoring Brantley with the go-ahead run, ending Bards outing.
Bard threw 11 pitches 10 fastballs at either 96 or 97 mph and one 84-mph slider.
He made some good pitches to get to two strikes and then left a ball too much out over the plate to Brantley, manager Terry Francona said. And then the same thing on the next hitter. The velocitys good, just out over the plate.
I would say the issue was location sometimes, because the balls coming out of his hand great. I thought early in the season he got under some breaking balls . . . Actually, hes done a pretty good job. No matter how hard you throw, some hitters, especially when theyre real hot, and you leave it out over the plate, they can get to it, and especially as they get deeper in the count they can put a good swing on it.
Cabrera is seeing the ball really well, Bard said. He's hitting just about everything. Pitch to Brantley . . . the count dictated everything the way we got to it. Everything dictated fastball in. I threw a fastball in and he hit it. Didn't hit it hard. Just enough to get through, but that's all he needed.
It may have been a bit of bad luck, Bard said.
"Yeah, maybe, he said. You just come to expect it as a reliever you're going to have a little bit of bad luck. It can look really bad. Same thing the other way. It will even out. I'm confident it well. I'll stick to my plan and do what I'm doing. I'm really happy the way ball is coming out of my hand. When they hit the pitches you're trying to throw, theres not much you can do about it."
It was more about location and pitch selection, said one scout in attendance Monday night.
I thought he went about it wrong, the scout said. If you dont locate, it doesnt matter if you throw 100. It was poor location. He did not hit the mitt.
"The ball on Brantley, he didnt get it in far enough and it ran back over the plate. And all he threw was fastballs. Cabreras the hottest guy in baseball right now. Bards not going to blow it by him. He just didnt make quality pitches. Quality pitches would have gotten him out of the inning. His fastball is not unhittable. This is a fastball-hitting team and Asdrubals a fastball hitter. Show him some off-speed stuff and it might make his fastball look a little bit better.
The inherited runner Bard allowed to score was the first in nine such situations. However, he has allowed runs in 7 of his 24 appearances this season, including four of his last seven.
He has posted a record of 1-4, with an ERA of 3.65 and two blown saves. In his blown saves and losses, he has allowed a combined eight earned runs (nine runs total) on 11 hits and two walks with three strikeouts and two home runs over four innings for an 18.00 ERA.
In his 19 other outings, including a win on May 18 over the Tigers and eight holds, he has allowed just two runs on seven hits and five walks with 21 strikeouts and a home run over 19 23 innings for an ERA of 0.92.
Bard has appeared in 24 of the Sox' 47 games this season. He said he feels fine physically but felt some fatigue a few days ago.
"Little bit a few days ago, he said. But last two outings I've felt really good."
Francona has no intention of staying away from Bard.
I still love going to him, Francona said. Obviously, we do and we will.
"May not always be successful, but we believe in him a lot.
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen