Notes: Bard takes another loss

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Notes: Bard takes another loss

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Daniel Bard stood in front of his locker, surrounded by reporters. Again.

Bard was answering questions about another tough, late-inning loss. Again.

Bard had been the loser Wednesday night in Toronto when the Sox saw a two-run deficit frittered away in the eighth. On Saturday, he had entered a tie game in the 11th, only to give up a leadoff triple to Desmond Jennings and, one out later, a game-winning single to Evan Longoria, giving the Rays a 6-5 win.

The pitching to Longoria, 0-and-2, was "exactly where we wanted it. Chest high . . . 98 mph . . . ''

The loss was Bard's seventh of the season -- three more than Bard accumulated in his first two seasons combined. The back-to-back losses were the first for Bard in his career.

"Tonight would have been a good one to win,'' said Bard, "a come-from-behind win. Unfortunately, we couldn't do it.''

Bard actually followed closer Jonathan Papelbon to the mound after Papelbon was brought in for the ninth inning. After a lot of work Thursday night, Terry Francona wanted to limit Bard to a single inning, while Papelbon was rested enough for two.

Jacoby Ellsbury, who hit a game-tying homer in the bottom of the ninth, went sliding in the right-center gap, hoping to catch a ball off the bat of Desmond Jennings.

Darnell McDonald, in right field, went after the ball, too, though Ellsbury called for it.

The ball fell between them for a triple, leading to the winning run.

"I felt like I got a good read on it,'' said McDonald. "The ball fell, so it was in a perfect spot. We got there at the same time. I heard him call the ball. I tried to get out of the way and the ball dropped. That's about how it's going for us right now.''

"We're trying to catch the ball,'' said Ellsbury. "I feel like we should catch everything out there.''

Making his third major league start, Kyle Weiland lasted just four innings, allowing three runs.

But considering the trouble he sometimes got himself into, that wasn't bad.

Weiland was able to limit the damage to a solo run in the first after loading the bases with no out in the first. It was more of the same in the third when he filled the bases with one out and kept the Rays to a single run.

"I dug myself a little bit into a hole,'' acknoweldged Weiland," and I made a few quality pitches and I Was able to get out of it with minimal damage. (But) it's tough to get out of those when you keep digging a hole like that.

Kevin Youkilis didn't return from Boston after getting an injection for his sore hip and will re-join the Red Sox when they return home from their current trip.

"He's a little sore,'' said Terry Francona, "which wasn't unexpected. We'll see where he's at on Tuesday.''

Francona confirmed that Youkilis has "the onset of the sports hernia,'' while adding that the term is general and means only that Youkilis "had a weakening of an area, which we already knew.''

Francona said Youkilis will be examined further at the conclusion of the Red Sox' season to determine whether any surgical procedure is needed in the offseason.

"For now, he can play as tolerated,'' said Francona, "and I think they believe he can play. And if he needs a day off, we can certainly do that.''

With Youkilis out Saturday and Sunday, Jed Lowrie will continue to man third base, with Mike Aviles also available.

Erik Bedard, who had a left lat pull examined in Boston Friday, rejoined the club and, according to Francona, "is improving.

"We don't want to rush him back,'' added the manager. "It's so easy to make mistakes when you're getting thin (with pitching), when in reality, you're messing up. I think we're just going to do the best we can in the meantime.''

Bedard was going to be skipped this weekend anyway because his left knee was tender, but the lat issue may be push that back further.

Francona said Bedard taking his next turn, which would be Thursday or so, "is not realistic. Again, the timetable isn't set in stone. It's more like how he feels.''

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

Wednesday's Red Sox-Rays lineups: Ramirez gets night off

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Wednesday's Red Sox-Rays lineups: Ramirez gets night off

Hanley Ramirez is getting a night off as the Red Sox look for their third straight win against the Rays tonight at Tropicana Field.

Travis Shaw will play first base, with Brock Holt at third.

Tonight's lineups:

RED SOX:
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Sandy Leon C
Brock Holt 3B
Travis Shaw 1B
Andrew Benintendi LF
---
Rick Porcello P

RAYS:
Logan Forsythe 2B
Kevin Kiermaier CF
Evan Longoria 3B
Brad Miller SH
Matt Duffy SS
Logan Morrison 1B
Steven Souza Jr. RF
Corey Dickerson LF
Bobby Wilson C
---
Matt Andriese P

McAdam: Buchholz is the relief the Red Sox need

McAdam: Buchholz is the relief the Red Sox need

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- This is the kind of season it has been for Clay Buchholz:

A little more than a month ago, he was merely taking up space on the Red Sox roster, having been summarily removed from the rotation after three months of poor outings.

He was in the bullpen, but the Sox were loathe to use him. Asked, memorably, why Buchholz hadn't been the choice to serve as a long reliever in a game in which the starter departed early, John Farrell candidly noted, in not so many words, that because the Sox still had a chance to win the game, Buchholz didn't make sense as an option.

Ouch.

But slowly, Buchholz became more effective in his new relief role. And when injuries struck the rotation, Buchholz got himself three cameo starts, during which he posted a 2.70 ERA in 16 2/3 innings, topped by Tuesday's beauty -- 6 1/3 innings, one run allowed, nine strikeouts recorded.

Just as Buchholz has straightened out, however, Red Sox starters are suddenly stacked up like jets waiting for clearance to land at Logan Airport. Steven Wright returns from a brief DL stint Friday, and Eduardo Rodriguez is not far behind.

When he pitched poorly, the Red Sox didn't have any other options.

When he pitched well, the Red Sox have plenty of other choices.

So, now what?

"As far as Clay goes,'' said John Farrell, "this will be, I'm sure, a conversation (had) within (the organization). But setting that aside, he's throwing the ball exceptionally well right now.''

That's indisputable.

But the question remains: In what capacity will he throw the ball in the near future?

There's been a suggestion to keep Buchholz in the rotation while moving Drew Pomeranz to the bullpen. That would give the Sox a dependable lefty in relief -- as opposed to, say, Fernando Abad -- while also serving the dual purpose of putting a governor on Pomeranz's climbing innings total.

Pomeranz, who has plenty of bullpen experience in the big leagues, has also thrown 140 1/3 innings this season, eclipsing his previous major league high by nearly 40.

But Pomeranz is 27, not 21. He's shown no signs of fatigue. To the contrary, he's 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his last four starts. The Sox shouldn't mess with his success.

Instead, Buchholz should become one of the team's high-leverage set-up weapons, available in the seventh or eighth inning.

True, Buchholz doesn't have the swing-and-miss capability you'd prefer to have in the eighth inning, where the fewer balls put in play, the better off you are. But he can get lefties and righties out, and, pitching out of the stretch full-time, he's greatly improved his command.

Buchholz would remain the best option for a spot start if one of the five Red Sox starters faltered or got hurt. But the bullpen remains the best choice for him.

Ironic, isn't it? When he pitched poorly, he remained in the rotation for several months. Now that he's pitching superbly, he can't earn a permanent spot.

It's been that kind of season.