BOSTON Daniel Bard was not at his sharpest, but he was good enough to get the win. And he figures that over the course of a season, there will be enough games like Sundays to balance off the games where his performance is much better but he gets nothing to show for it.
Bard went six innings, giving up one run on six hits and four walks with two strikeouts. His record improved to 3-4, while his ERA dropped from 4.83 to 4.30.
Bard needed just seven pitches to retire the Indians in order in the first. But, staked to a four-run lead after the first, Bards per-inning pitch count quickly rose: 21 in the second, 29 in the third, 75 in the fourth. He finished with 97 (58 strikes).
You keep talking about building on things, and Daniels a new starter, said manager Bobby Valentine. His stuff today was not as good as some of the other stuff when hes gone out there. He battled thru some innings and some situations and I think thats a great day of learning, a great stepping stone for him. He did everything we needed him to do.
It could have been a long home half of the first that affected him. The Sox batted around in the inning, (the first of two such innings along with the six-run seventh), when six consecutive batters reached base with two outs.
After two quick innings, giving up just a lead-off walk in the second, Bard struggled in the third. With one out he gave up a nine-pitch walk to No. 9 hitter Jack Hannahan, a four-pitch walk to Johnny Damon, a single to Jason Kipnis, and another four-pitch walk to Asdrubal Cabrera to drive in a run.
Bard appeared on his way to significant trouble, but he got Travis Hafner to ground into a double play to end the inning.
Felt really good in the first two innings, just pounding the zone and executing pitches, he said. The third inning wasnt pretty by any means. Just one of those things where you had a couple of long sits between innings and you kind of lose feel for the release point on the fastball. Its happened to me before and itll probably happen again. Its just a matter of grinding thru it and finding something you can throw for a strike.
For me it was the off-speed got me back into some good counts and I think I grindeda long at-bat there, I cant remember who was hitting, one of the lefties Hannahan. But just finding something you can throw for a strike and finding a way to get thru it because I knew if I could get thru that and limit the damage there, then I could get back on track and thats kind of what I did.
For Bard, each start is a learning experience.
Today was a step backwards in a few ways, he said. Fastball command was not great all day but it forced me to use the changeup and use the breaking ball and that's what kept me in the game and kept them off balance just enough. Its one of those days where you just say, Fastballs not going to work. Im not going to locate it. I just need to be in the zone with it and throw enough off-speed stuff where it doesnt have to be perfect.And thats kind of what I was able to do. Its tough facing nine lefties. You just got to find a way to grind it and keep them swinging.
An outing like this one, with a W next to his name, is a trade-off for those days where his performance is much better and he doesnt get rewarded.
I felt really good the first start of the year against the Blue Jays and didnt have much results to show for it, he said. And I think the same againstthe Royals on May 8, the same thing. Felt really good and throwing three pitches well and the final line here doesnt look that great. So I think you have to have the outings like today where I feel like I was out there just grinding from the third inning on, but still the end line looks pretty good. So I think you got to have these type of outings to offset those ones where you feel good and the numbers arent great.