Bard comes back to earth in loss to Indians

191542.jpg

Bard comes back to earth in loss to Indians

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.

Three things we learned from the Red Sox’ 11-9 loss to the Twins

price_what_we_learned-overlay-master.png

Three things we learned from the Red Sox’ 11-9 loss to the Twins

Three things we learned from the Boston Red Sox’ 11-9 loss to the Minnesota Twins . . .

1) David Price isn’t having fun

Boston’s $217 million-dollar arm had another rough outing -- this time against a team that already has 60 losses.

Those are the team’s he’s supposed to dominate.

“It’s been terrible,” Price said on how his season has gone following the loss. “Just awful.”

Price’s mistakes have often been credited to mechanical mishaps this year. Farrell mentioned that following his start in New York, Price spent time working on getting more of a downhill trajectory on his pitches.

But Price doesn’t think his issue is physical.

So it must be mental -- but he doesn’t feel that’s the case either.

“Honestly I don’t think it’s either one of those,” Price said when asked which he thought was a factor. “It’s me going out there and making pitches. “

But when it comes down to the barebones, pitching -- much like anything else -- is a physical and mental act.

So when he says it’s neither, that’s almost impossible. It could be both, but it has to be one.

His mind could be racing out on the mound from a manifestation of the issues he’s had throughout the season.

Or it could just be that his fastball isn’t changing planes consistently, like Farrell mentioned.

Both could be possible too, but it takes a certain type of physical approach and mental approach to pitch -- and Price needs to figure out which one is the issue, or how to address both. 

2) Sandy Leon might be coming back to Earth

Over his last five games, Boston’s new leading catcher is hitting .176 (3-for-17), dropping his average to .395.

A couple things have to be understood. His average is still impressive. In the five games prior to this dry spell, Leon went 7-for-19 (.368) But -- much like Jackie Bradley Jr. -- Leon hasn’t been known for his offensive output throughout his career. So dry spells are always tests of how he can respond to adversity and make necessary adjustments quickly.

Furthermore, if he’s not so much falling into a funk as opposed to becoming the real Sandy Leon -- what is Boston getting?

Is his run going to be remembered as an exciting run that lasted much longer than anyone expected? Or if he going to show he’s a legitimate hitter that can hit at least -.260 to .280 with a little pop from the bottom of the line-up?

What’s more, if he turns back into the Sandy Leon he’s been throughout his career, the Red Sox will have an interesting dilemma on how to handle the catching situation once again.

3) Heath Hembree has lost the momentum he gained after being called up.

Following Saturday’s contest, the right-hander was demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket after an outing where he went 1/3 of an inning, giving up a run on three hits -- and allowing some inherited runners to score.

Hembree at one point was the savior of the bullpen, stretching his arm out over three innings at a time to bail out the scuffling Red Sox starting rotation that abused it’s bullpen.

His ERA is still only 2.41 -- and this has been the most he’s ever pitched that big league level -- but the Red Sox have seen a change in him since the All-Star break.

Which makes sense, given that hitters have seven hits and two walks against him in his 1.1 innings of work -- spanning four games since the break.

“He’s not confident pitcher right now,” John Farrell said about Hembree before announcing his demotion. “As good as Heath has been for the vast majority of this year -- and really in the whole first half -- the four times out since the break have been the other side of that.”

Joe Kelly will be the pitcher to replace Hembree and Farrell hopes to be able to stretch him out over multiple innings at a time, as well.

Quotes, notes and stars: Price says season has been "terrible"

Quotes, notes and stars: Price says season has been "terrible"

Quotes, notes and stars from the Boston Red Sox’ 11-9 loss to the Minnesota Twins:

QUOTES

* “It’s been terrible . . . Just awful.” Price on how his season has gone.

* “Tough night from the mound -- obviously.” John Farrell on Red Sox pitching in the loss.

* “Honestly I don’t think it’s either one of those. It’s me going out there and making pitches. It’s what I’ve done for a long time now -- and I haven’t done this year. That’s why this year’s been the way it has been.” Price said when he was asked if he felt his problems boiled down to physical or mental issues.

* “Given that [we] had to stay away from [Matt] Barnes and [Junichi] Tazawa today, [Clay Buchholz] was a guy that was going to be needed to hopefully multiple inning to bridge us to where were able to match up a little bit more in the eighth inning to get to Ziegler. Unfortunately it didn’t happen.” Farrell said on why he turned to Buchholz -- not Barnes – despite having the lead.

* “It was crazy. When the fly ball [went] into the sky it turned into like a twister of some sort and you didn’t know where the ball was going to fall. I’ve never seen anything like that before.” Michael Martinez on dealing with the howling wind in right field.

* “It wasn’t much wind. I went and looked at it, definitely should have made the play. Just running at it full speed -- it was one of those things I didn’t know how close I was getting to the wall so I went into a slide. And it was an early slide, so it kind of threw me off a little bit . . . Just thought I was closer to the wall than I really was.” Brock Holt on the fly ball he misplayed.

NOTES

* Jackie Bradley Jr. knocked in two runs, becoming the fourth Red Sox hitter to reach the 60 RBI mark this season -- the most in the MLB. Bradley also had a double, marking is 46th extra-base hit of the season -- with 99 hits overall.

* Dustin Pedroia reached base for the 26th consecutive game with his double in the second inning. He has a .402 OBP during this stretch and a .311 average.

* The Red Sox have lost consecutive games for the first time in nearly a month (6/26-27). Both losses were comeback victories for Minnesota. Boston’s record drops to 3-3 against the 37-60 Twins this season.

STARS

1) Eddie Rosario

Rosario finished 4-for-4 with an RBI and three runs scored, bumping his average from .244 to .262.

2) David Ortiz

Ortiz finished 3-for-3 with a walk, double, two RBI and two runs scored -- giving Boston just about as much offense as anyone can hope for.

3) Miguel Sano

The burly Twins third baseman finished 3-for-5 with a long ball, two runs scored, a walk and an RBI in Minnesota’s win.

Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter: @ngfriar