Bard saves Ramirez, Sox

Terry Francona and assistant general manager Jed Hoyer were holding court in the visiting manager’s office during the afternoon hours on Friday when the topic of flame-throwing rookie reliever Daniel Bard came up. Particularly, they talked about Bard’s usage.

Francona, ever mindful of not giving Bard too much too soon as was the case with Cla Meredith in 2005, had mainly been pitching the righty in situations where the Red Sox were losing by a couple of runs or up by a bunch.

“Jed Hoyer and I were talking today,” Francona said. “We’ve tried to bring him along. I said, ‘one of these days we’re going to get in an extra inning game and we’re going to have to put him in and we’re going to be glad.’ I didn’t know it would be tonight.”

That’s just the way baseball works. It was tonight. Jonathan Papelbon was unavailable. Ramon Ramirez gave up a game-tying homer to Ryan Howard with one out in the ninth. Francona really did not want to use Manny Delcarmen. Justin Masterson, Hideki Okajima and Takashi Saito had already been called on. So when the Red Sox had to pinch-hit for Saito in the top of the 13th, Bard started warming up.

By the time it was time for Bard to get on the mound, the Red Sox had taken a 5-2 lead. It was still  a save situation, but at least one that provided some margin for error.

Bard opened the inning with a walk, but then struck out the next two. After belting Raul Ibanez on the hand with a pitch, he settled down and struck out Shane Victorino on a nasty breaking pitch to end the game. The kid with upper 90s to triple digit heat now has a Major League save to his credit.

“A lot of adrenaline, but I’ve closed games before – not at this level or that caliber of hitters,” said Bard. “You could see it with the fastballs I was leaving up. That’s just a little bit of extra adrenaline. Fortunately I was able to get enough of them down and throw the breaking ball for strikes when I needed to. That was enough to get me through.”

Bard credited closing out a 7-0 win against the Yankees on Tuesday night as a good ramp-up to Friday’s performance.

“I kind of got a taste of it a little bit the other night, the 7-0 game,” Bard said. “It was the Yankees, I came in with the lead in the ninth. That was kind of a taste of it and it prepared me a little bit for tonight.”

In Bard’s first 10 Major League outings, he has an 0.75 ERA, striking out 13 over 12 innings.

“I’ve learned a lot,” said Bard. “I’ve just learned you have to pitch down in the zone with all your pitches. I think I’ve done that a lot more consistently the last three or four outings.”

“He’s got a great arm,” said Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek. “Just a matter of him getting more pitches under his belt. His stuff is definitely really good.”

Ian Browne

17 Comments

Morning all! It was only a matter of time before Bard would be needed in a big game. It was great to see him perform so well. Yes – he needs more innings under his belt to help his control settle in, but I am looking forward to watching him grow into the role. Tito and all have been handling him well.

Ramon Ramirez has me somewhat concerned. Three HRs given up over 2 games. hmmm….I wonder what’s up there.

I’ll admit, I was worried about Ortiz at first – but he did better then okay playing the position. I don’t know if we will see him there again during this series (he did have good at bats!) but who knows!

Check back later!

Hey all, I mentioned this before — no responses, so maybe its just noise, but I am concerned that SOX are going to repeat their one profoundly bad management tendency (imo) and that is too over tinker with things that are already strong tinkering with the bullpen in 2007, the Gagne trade – which almost cost us, tinkering with SS by not resigning Cabrera in 2004, but I understand the got Elsbury in the compensatory pick for losing Cabrera, the Lugo trade, etc.).

I certainly like Smoltz, but this right now seems like it is more likely to hurt us then help us, unless you trade his spot out for Dice-K — and I don’t see us doing that.

The only option that seems to have the least downside is Smoltz to the pen by carrying one less bench player… then what — how do you keep all those relief pitchers primed, and will Smoltz be happy (anyway) if he is just one of eight or nine (or whatever) and not a go to reliever? And introducing him to the pen means you have to keep one more arm primed as well (maybe Dice-K can help with that :) . And I wouldn’t release Penny just yet, planning to keep Smoltz (unless you are getting Young). Then there is Buckholtz — with this incredible record in AAA that we are wasting, while we continue with Dice-K’s and Smoltz, neither of whom are pitching anywhere near as well as you are (so it may be).

These are tough decisions, money and reputation are hard to put down, sometimes deserved (like with Ortiz), sometimes, perhaps only management knows why they go so long with what appears to be decisions not based on performance…. but at this point, I (as much as I like Smoltz, the man from what I have seen) — trying to accommodate him, maybe the wrong move.

Maybe the thinking (at this time is) — you trade Penny and Green or Lowrie in some package, for a Young (I don’t have the heart for that at this point) — and then you have Smoltz and Buckholtz as backup for trading Penny, and between the two them — you don’t lose, and you pick up **** with a big bat.

I can see, I can’t be in the business, I just can’t do this to the guys already on the team, that are performing. No wonder everyone always goes for money in the end. Its the only thing you can count on.

dgneubert,
Don’t worry. Great position to be in. With Clay, I’m not too worried. He’ll be in the Sox rotation for sure next year. The more seasoning the better I say because I don’t want him to go down again. When he comes up — leave him up!
As far as Smotz, who knows. Will Dice-K go out for a while and rehab (good idea as far as I’m concerned and will also humble him a bit as well). I don’t know. I DON”T want to lose Penny. He’s a gamer and has impressed me. When I heard him interviewed he sounded like that big guy from high school that everyone liked and you saw good things in him. That’s Penny. He grew up and he never grew up and you love him for it.

Oh ya, Green is kicking tail. The man has talent and determination and he wants to win. This guy should stick around for a while. He’s very talented.
Lugo can go to the Washington Nationals ASAP as far as I’m concerned. Don’t they need a shortstop with that mentality.

DGN,
Dave is right, Dice-K will answer your questions when he pitches tonight. I think he’ll end up back on the DL if he cannot get it done again today. He seems to have nothing this year.
Penny has really come around. He was throwing 97 last time out.
This is the third team in a row the Sox are facing who can flat out HIT and the Sox pitchers are doing well against them. I’m liking it a lot.

Ian mentioned Cla Meredith in his article here. The guy that comes to my mind that they might have rushed was Craig Hansen. The ink was barely dry on the contract and he was pitching in the big leagues. Hansen appeared in 4 games in 2005, in my opinion…4 too many! Also one of the first games in 2006, Hansen pitched in a tight game against the Rangers and Blaylock came thru late in that game. I think Theo/Francona have learned from the Hansen situation and have learned there lesson with young arms, take it easy with them. These young arms like Bard are not only the present but the future as well. I love Bard’s delivery, very smooth!

One of the arms out of the pen that has impressed me as of late has been Saito. In the last month or so he has done very well. Location has been the key with Saito. I think Ramirez is going thru one of those things that will happen to relievers, I am not concerned. It will be very interesting too see what Boston does come late July. Will Delcarmen stay or go??? Then again do you really want to mess up the chemisty in this bullpen???

Pedroia is really struggling this month of June. When Pedroia is hot he is on FIRE, when he goes cold, he gets COOLS off quick! Then again a player like Pedroia snaps out of it quick.

I’m not sure what Boston will do when Smolz makes his Boston debut. Of course there are always rumors of a 6 man rotation but I think that would be FOOLISH! It usually works it’s self out….the old saying goes!

Boston’s pitching the last 4 games ( 40 innings pitched—10 runs allowed…very impressive ) I thought the month of June would be nice to the Sox, the schedule maker has been kind. I think Boston will have a 3-5 game lead come All Star break in July! We shall see.

Brian, you are right on about Hansen, although I’m not real sure more seasoning would have helped him. He just didn’t seem to have the mental makeup to be successful, and he did have opportunities to go back down and work on some things.

The Sox are in a good position. They have some expendable pitching, probably starting with Brad Penny, but I don’t think they will do anything until they are sure Smoltz is OK and can perform. You have to figure that Smoltz isn’t going to go more than 5 innings in any of his next few starts until he can get into real pitching shape. I’m also not convinced Penny is going to last the season. His arm looks strong, but we’ll see how that goes. Dice-K doesn’t seem to have much. I think there are questions as to whether he can be successful long term in major league baseball in this country. This ain’t Japan and win or lose, almost every start is a struggle for him because he doesn’t pitch to contact. He’s got good stuff, but doesn’t go after hitters. I guess I’m just saying that there are still some questions about the future of the rotation. The great thing is that no matter what happens with any of those three guys, the Sox have lots of options.

Garry….
Even if Hansen was brought along slowly, he still would have struggled but we’ll never know for sure I guess. He has lots of talent but his mental make-up is questioned for sure.
I’m with you 100% about the Sox having options and lots as you say. Buchholz and Bowden come too mind. The one thing that would concern me about Smoltz and Wakefield in the same rotation is you would have (2) pitchers north of 40 yrs. of age. Smoltz was brought to Boston for October. Of course you have to make the playoffs but let’s face it, the Sox chances of missing the playoffs are very slim.

I thought when Boston signed Penny he would give them roughly 150 innings. Also I hope Theo remembers dealing Arroyo before he does anything with there starters. You never ever have enough of starting pitching! That has been proven year after year! I have never seen a team that has so many options when it comes to starting pitching. Props to Theo and the baseball ops. dept.

I agree Brian, you can’t have too much starting pitching. I didn’t even think about Wake. He has been an innings machine, but the last two years he has had to take time off after the All Star break. Smoltz is a bonus if they get anything out of him. He’s not critical to the Sox effort at this point. He’s almost like Schilling last year. Buchholz can work his game in the minors this year and be ready to be a star next year. My guess is that neither Penny nor Smoltz will be around next year and Wake is an unknown. I feel confident there will be a place in the rotation for Buchholz next year.

HI GARRY!!!! Hows everything “up north”? thanks again for dinner and jai alai last weekend, David and I REALLY enjoyed the time and meeting you. AND THANKS FOR THE CAP’S CAP!!!
Just thought I’d check in and say hey to everyone.. Interesting topic.. I said 2 starts ago that I think matsuzaka should go in a trade, but with his salary, I highly doubt that it will come to pass. With that said I think that if a starter goes, it will be Penny.. I liked the way he looked the other night and hope it lasts, but you never know.

Starting lineups from NESN.
Hey Garry and BoSox. The intellectual leaders of the blog.
You both made interesting points but pitching is ALWAYS needed. Gary, don’t sell Penny short. He’s on fire and I think he’ll be with us next year.
.
Red Sox Phillies
Dustin Pedroia, 2B Jimmy Rollins, SS
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF Shane Victorino, CF
Kevin Youkilis, 1B Chase Utley, 2B
Jason Bay, LF Ryan Howard, 1B
Mike Lowell, 3B Raul Ibanez, LF
Rocco Baldelli, RF Jayson Wuerth, RF
Jason Varitek, C Pedro Feliz, 3B
Julio Lugo, SS Carlos Ruiz, C
Daisuke Matsuzaka, P Antonio Bastardo, P
.
These are the starting lineups tonight — you got it. Terry Francona is doing everything he can to lose the game. Putting in the WORST shortstop in the league is going to kill the Sox. What’s he got a problem with Nick Green? I KNEW the minute that Lugo got a hit that he’d be in the lineup. It’s like Francona keeps putting him there and when he blows a game Lugo sits again.
Green has been nothing short of fantastic compared to Lugo.
I could argue that Green has played a lot and that he needs a rest — RIGHT! Youk is in there!
I’m going to be sick now!

Dave — I still can’t comment — Ellen — have we called this contest yet? Can I declare myself the winner because I had the way-harder player to encourage — or should I just forfeit — or is the contest even going, nobody has mentioned it in a while.

I say we declare Ellen the winner, we all know she wants a date with Eck anyway, which was the prize for a female winner!!!

Dave, I’ve been called a lot of things in my life, but an intellectual leader is not one of them. Just what exactly is that anyway???? LOL!

Hey Ellen, it eas great to meet you and David. Next time we go to dinner, we’ll make sure you get something to eat. Glad to give you a jai-alai winner. I actually had a good weekend at jai-alai. I came home with more money than I left with after paying all expenses……. can’t beat that.

Interesting lineup for the Sox tonight. I wonder why Drew isn’t playing. All things being equal, here you have a AlL vs NL in the NL format. Coming off the bench to pinch hit the Sox have Drew, Ortiz and Kotsay. Does any National League team have anything close to that? No wonder Peavey and the rest of these NL clowns won’t go to an AL team.

Gary,
I will also add the gentleman category and integrated it into your intellectual status. Face it Gary, you’re the real thing. You played baseball for a career. You know your stuff.
.
With Lugo going tonight, very little chance of winning. he will blow the game as he has every other start at short. Don’t believe me, check out his track record. He makes Homer Simpson at short seem like a giant.

Gary,
Did you notice that you did not mention Lugo. Please tell me you are NOT FOR LUGO!

new thread!!

Hey Red Sox Folks in the Nation.
Let me tell you why Theo signed Smoltz in the first place.
It’s all about October!!!
It’s all about the playoffs!!!
Game 1 Starter-Josh Beckett
Game 2 Starter-Jon Lester
Game 3 Starter-John Smoltz
Game 4 Starter-Dice K

Smoltz is a big game pitcher and he’s here
for October. Everything between now and
October is a warmup.

ps: The Sox will let Papelbon walk, maybe to the Yankees to
replace Rivera.
Bard will be the closer in 2 years.

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