Red Sox

Bard's struggles continue against Indians


Bard's struggles continue against Indians

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

Could Nationals' interest in Cora mess with Red Sox' plans?

Could Nationals' interest in Cora mess with Red Sox' plans?

The Washington Nationals will ask to speak to Houston Astros bench coach Alex Cora after the ALCS, Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe reported, which could throw a wrench into the Red Sox' plans to name Cora their manager.

The Sox appeared close to naming Cora to replace John Farrell after the Astros season is finished, NBC Sports Boston Red Sox Insider Evan Drellich reported earlier this week. Then the Nats decided to part ways with manager Dusty Baker after consecutive N.L. East titles but Division Series flameouts.

Cora, 41, as Cafardo points out, was once offered a player development job with the Nats, who were the last team he played for (2011) in his 14-plus years as a major league infielder, including 2005-08 with the Red Sox. 

Nationals GM Mike Rizzo obviously has a fondness for Cora, telling in 2011:

"I think it comes natural to him to be a teacher. Alex still has a lot left in his tank as a player. But he has my number, and when he’s done playing, he can make a call. It will be well-received."

After interviewing Cora, ex-Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus and Ron Gardenhire, who took the Tigers job this week, Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski told that he was still "undecided" if he'll interview anyone else.


ALCS: Verlander, Astros beat Yankees 7-1 to force Game 7


ALCS: Verlander, Astros beat Yankees 7-1 to force Game 7

HOUSTON -  Justin Verlander remained perfect with Houston, pitching seven shutout innings when the team needed him most, and Jose Altuve homered and drove in three runs as the Astros extended the AL Championship Series to a decisive Game 7 with a 7-1 win over the New York Yankees on Friday night.

Acquired in an Aug. 31 trade, Verlander has won all nine outings with the Astros. And with his new club facing elimination in Game 6 against the Yankees, he delivered again.

After striking out 13 in a complete-game victory in Game 2, Verlander threw another gem. The right-hander scattered five hits and struck out eight to improve to 9-0 with 67 strikeouts since being traded from Detroit. George Springer helped him out of a jam in the seventh, leaping to make a catch at the center-field wall and rob Todd Frazier of extra bases with two on and Houston up 3-0.

Game 7 is Saturday night in Houston, with the winner advancing to the World Series against the NL champion Los Angeles Dodgers.