Notes: Bard can't seal Wakefield's 200th win

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Notes: Bard can't seal Wakefield's 200th win

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam

TORONTO -- It was so close, Tim Wakefield could almost taste it: Up by two runs, six outs to go and Daniel Bard, the Red Sox' dependable set-up man, pitching the eighth.

But then things went horribly wrong. Bard had command issues, walking three and hitting another batter. And when Matt Albers came in gave up a three-run double, the Red Sox had lost the lead and Wakefield had lost a chance -- his seventh -- to win career victory No. 200.

Wakefield, however, insisted he had some responsibility for the loss, even though he left with a three-run lead after five innings.

"I struggled the first three innings throwing strikes," said Wakefield. "I put a lot of pressure on (the bullpen) from the sixth on to the ninth. I'll take the blame for not getting deeper into the game and not giving those guys some rest."

Wakefield had difficulty commanding the knuckler in the first three innings, tossing two wild pitches, walking three and hitting a batter.

He was far better later, retiring six of the last seven hitters he faced.

Wakefield has had seven chances at 200 -- he hasn't won since July 24 -- and was asked if he feels at all snakebit in his pursuit of history.

"If it happens, it happens," he said philosophically. "If it doesn't, it doesn't change what I've done. I'd like it to happen. But more important is for us to get into the postseason and we're trailing the Yankees by 2 12 games now.

"That's our ultimate goal."

Bard had a 1.46 ERA over his last 56 outings before Wednesday night, but was charged with five runs in an inning, blowing the lead and Wakefield's chance at No. 200.

After getting the final out with an inherited runner in the seventh, Bard allowed the first three hitters in the eighth to reach on a hit batsman, single and walk. He then struck out two before walking Eric Thames to force in one run.

That brought Jose Bautista to the plate and Bard got ahead 0-and-2 before losing him, walking him to force in another run and tie the game.

"My command kind of came and went as the inning progressed," said Bard. "I just didn't have good timing with my delivery."

But even after his struggles, Bard maintained confidence in himself.

"I'm definitely a believer that until the run crosses the plate, I'm going to try to find a way to keep that from happening," he said. "I fully believed, with the bases loaded and no outs, that I could get out of that. I never doubted that."

Worse, the blown lead meant that another chance for Wakefield to win his 200th was gone.

"When I got in the clubhouse," said Bard, "Wakefield, he was the first guy to come up, shake my hand and pat me on the back. He knows how hard I'm trying. To be that close to getting out of it with the lead intact makes it even tougher.

"But we're trying for him. He did his job today; I didn't do mine."

Terry Francona was asked if he gave any thought to bringing in Jonathan Papelbon for a four-out save in the eighth.

"I wanted Bard to get through Bautista," explained Francona. "He handled Bautista so well. I actually thought staying with Bard was the right thing to do."

As if things weren't frustrating enough in the eighth inning, things didn't get any better in the top of the ninth.

Adrian Gonzalez homered to bring the Sox to within two, and singles to David Ortiz, a groundout and a single by Marco Scutaro scored another, making it 11-10.

Francona had Mike Aviles pinch-run for Scutaro, but Aviles, representing the potential tying run, got thrown out attempting to steal second base for the final out of the game.

"I didn't have a great jump for one," said Aviles. "For two, that's probably the best pitch to get thrown out on. It wasn't a pitchout, but it was up and out. It just didn't work out."

The Jays had Jose Molina behind the plate, "one of the best in the business in throwing out runners," said Aviles. "So I knew I needed to get a good jump. I don't feel like I got a good jump, but he did a good job getting rid of it."

Josh Beckett, who returned to Boston Tuesday to have his ailing right ankle examined, rejoined the Red Sox Wednesday.

"It's going to be common sense when it comes to his program," said Francona. "We'll see how he does. Once he's ready to start that five-day routine, we'll get him going."

Beckett was walking around the clubhouse with a bootbrace device on his ankle. He was not available to speak with reporters before Wednesday night's game.

With Beckett out for his next start and Erik Bedard skipped to give his knee extra rest, the Red Sox don't yet have a starter announced for Tuesday, when they begin a homestand with Toronto.

"We haven't gotten that far," said Francona.

J.D. Drew (finger) attempted to throw Tuesday, but was unable to do so because of lingering soreness.

"And he hasn't been able to swing either," said Francona, "so we're nowhere."

Clay Buchholz threw long toss from a distance of about 105 feet for about 60 throws.

"Good day," observed Francona of his starter. "He's picking up the intensity, picking up the distance. He'll take Thursday off and move out to 120 feet. He's tolerating everything."

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam.

Quotes, notes and stars: Swihart flashes power and speed

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Quotes, notes and stars: Swihart flashes power and speed

BOSTON - Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 10-3 win over the Colorado Rockies:

 

QUOTES

"I felt a little cramp. I'm fine. I appreciate John and everybody looking out (for me). We obviously don't want anything to happen like last year, but I'm good.'' - Dustin Pedroia, who left the game in the fifth after experiencing some tightness in his right hamstring.

"It's nice to be able to get deep into the game. That's my goal every time. My goal is nine innings, so if I don't get nine innings, I'm a little disappointed because I want to be able to go out there and pitch as many innings as I can.'' - Steven Wright.

"I think my release point was just a little off. That definitely makes it hard, especially when it's moving, because it's not a consistent release point.'' - Wright on the early-inning unpredictability of his signature pitch.

"Even when I was catching, I pride myself on running. I want to be an athlete back there. I want to run the bases, steal bases, things most catchers aren't known to do.'' - Blake Swihart, who hit two triples.

 

NOTES

* Jackie Bradley Jr. extended his hitting streak to 29 games.

* Xander Bogaerts extended his hitting streak to 18 games.

* David Ortiz tied Paul Molitor for 12th on the all-time doubles list with 605.

* Ortiz has driven in multiple runs in three straight games

* Dustin Pedroia has a career batting average of .340 in interleague play, the highest ever for someone with 500 or more at-bats.

* Travis Shaw drove in three runs and now has 68 RBI in his first 111 games since Fred Lynn and Jim Rice in 1974-75.

* Blake Swihart became the third Red Sox hitter this season to post two triples in the same game.

* The Red Sox clinched their fifth straight home series win.

* The Sox are 21-8 since April 24 and are 13-2 in their last 15 home games.

 

STARS

1) Steven Wright

Backed by some rare run support, Wright evened his record at 4-4 with seven-plus innings and his eighth quality start this season.

2) Travis Shaw

Shaw produced two hits and knocked in three runs, making him the fourth Red Sox player this season to reach 30 RBI.

3) Blake Swihart

Swihart got to flash both his power and his speed by hitting two triples to the triangle, motoring around the bases.

 

First impressions from Red Sox' 10-3 win over Rockies

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First impressions from Red Sox' 10-3 win over Rockies

BOSTON- First impressions from the Red Sox' 10-3 win over Colorado:

 

Steven Wright is the very picture of consistency.

In nine starts this season, Wright has pitched at least six innings and allowed two earned runs or fewer eight times. In the one start in which he failed to do so, he was pitching in a mini-monsoon and unable to properly grip his signature pitch.

On Wednesday, he battled some early-inning wildness with the knuckler, resulting in two wild pitches and four passed balls, but eventually settled down.

His 4-4 mark hardly represents how well he's pitched. A more telling stat is the 60 2/3 innings he's pitched in nine outings, just shy of seven per game.

 

It could be a costly night for injuries.

Ryan Hanigan left the game after 2 1/2 innings because of illness. Dustin Pedroia came out in the fifth as a precaution after experiencing some tightness in his right hamstring. And Xander Bogaerts jammed his thumb in the eighth.

Let's assume that Hanigan's illness is a temporary thing, and since Bogaerts remained in the game, that, too, seemed minor.

But the Pedroia hamstring is potentially a red flag, since it was that same hamstring that sidelined him for almost half of last season.

 

For the past 19 home games, the Red Sox have averaged more than eight runs per game.

Nineteen games isn't exactly a small sample size. In fact, it's almost exactly one-quarter of the home schedule. To average more than eight runs per game over that long a stretch, covering parts of three different homestands, is pretty remarkable.

 

Blake Swihart's speed is something else.

Swihart hit two triples to the triangle Wednesday night, and on the second, to see him shift into higher gear as he approached second base was really something to see.

It's difficult to think of another catcher -- and yes, I understand that Swihart has been playing left field exclusively of late; but he remains primarily a catcher -- who ran as well as Swihart does.

When the Sox and other independent evaluators remark about Swihart's athleticism, that's one of the things to which they're referring.