Game 22

David Ortiz game

David Ortiz of the Red Sox hits a solo home run against the Astros.

The Boston Red Sox took on the Houston Astros last night at Fenway Park. to finish the four game series,  Game 22, (140 more to go).  David Ortiz, Big Papi, hits his first home run of the season (he hasn’t missed a beat since he’s been back); Clay Buchholz goes 5-0, pitching well into the 8th inning; Mike Carp makes a remarkable presence at bat (due to Shane Victorino’s bad back he was able to play) and #51, Daniel Bard, is back at home.

It could not have been a better game to watch.  It was the bottom of the first; the Red Sox scored 4 runs of 7, which would eventually win the game.  Pedroia stole second by a long shot in the first and Jarrod made his seventh RBI of the season.  If they keep swinging their bats as they did last night and many nights before, the Sox could possibly take it all the way.  Their aggressiveness on the plate is astounding and it’s such a thrill to watch. 109 pitches into the game,  Clay Bucholz was taken from the mound with an appreciative applause by the fans, in the middle of the eighth inning,  leaving Andrew Miller (with his new haircut) to finish the job.  In which he did. It always scares me when Farrell brings Miller into the game, but lately, ever since he got his new haircut, he’s been showing improvement.

On the other hand, Mike Napoli struck out three times out of his four at bats, and Will Middlebrooks missed a tag at third base in the top of the third. The players can’t all be on their game all the time, although we would like to think so. The great thing about this team is when one player breaks down, another one gets right up.

Will Middlebrooks

Marwin Gonzalez of the Astros beats a throw to third base against Will Middlebrooks of the Red Sox.

What truly made this particular game an event to watch was Daniel Bard’s entrance onto the field in the top of the ninth. I can recall my asking long ago, “What happened to #51?” Well, #51 is back and what a remarkable job he did on the mound tonight in the short amount of time he had to perform. Upon his return, Bard threw at a 96 mph velocity which is great for him.  In the ninth inning, he threw a 93 mph fast pitch to the plate striking out the batter for his 218th strike out in his career.  The win came when Bard scooped a line drive into his glove and made the out at first with Napoli’s assistance. The Red Sox won 7-2.

Did the Red Sox make the right call on Daniel Bard?

Daniel Bard

The bizarre saga of Daniel Bard continues.

Last season, there was an outcry to insert the right-hander into the closer’s role when Alfredo Aceves couldn’t even close a door, never mind a game. Now, we find that at the start of the 2013 campaign, Bard will begin his season even lower than where he was sent last season.

On one hand, I understand why the Red Sox want to demote Bard all the way down the Double-A. Bard was a disaster in his early minor league days in the Red Sox organization, and was corrected by current Sea Dogs pitching coach, Bob Kipper. The two will be reunited, as Bard was demoted to Boston’s Double-A affiliate just a few days before the start of the season.

On the other hand, we all know how much of a headcase Bard can be. After his demotion to Triple-A last year, the reliever continued his downward spiral in the minor leagues. I see what the Red Sox are trying to do by hooking him back up with Kipper, but is another demotion what Bard needs right now? By all accounts, he was touching 96 on the gun during spring training. Could the Red Sox have afforded to keep him on the Opening Day roster as a confidence-booster for Bard?

It’s a moot point now, but time will tell whether or not John Farrell and the Red Sox made the right call on Bard to open the 2013 season.

What Happened to # 51?

DanielBard

TORONTO, CANADA – JUNE 3: Daniel Bard #51 of the Boston Red Sox walks to the dugout after getting pulled after hitting Edwin Encarnacion of the Toronto Blue Jays during MLB action at The Rogers Centre June 3, 2012 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)

We haven’t heard from Daniel Bard (# 51) since February, or so it seems. What happened to the Boston Red Sox pitcher?  Did manager, John Farrell, decide to scrap him from the play list altogether? Do I have a ‘thing’ for him?  Maybe.  After all, he’s quite the catch (no pun intended). No, seriously.  We need to figure this out because I need a number to support this year, and because Bard has had such a tough time over the past year, I believe he deserves a fan, but where is he?  Why haven’t we heard about him in the media lately?  John Farrell, so it seems, speaks highly of the 27 year old pitcher. I believe that is why, after serving three consecutive years in the major leagues, and after the debacle the Red Sox had last year, being thrown into the minors, Bard is up and at it again with a different focus. Just like Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Bard has a new mindset to, “keep things simple”, and things will just work. Bard also focuses on the day to day tension he feels on the field, versus what the future holds. I, myself am an avid believer of keeping things simple, although it may not seem that way these days. But when I begin to complicate any given situation, which is when things spiral out of control.

Being sent to Triple A Pawtucket  was a shock for Bard, after being in the majors for three years, but simply put, Bard was ‘trying to find himself’, and to be respectful, I believe, manager John Farrell believes, and Bard believes, he did.

“Keep things simple”; go out and play the game; focus on the moment, and “build on today”.  These are some of the key phrases I’ve come across throughout my research.

So where is # 51 today? David Ortiz and Steven Drew are both on the injury list. We know that. Clay Buchholz is doing exceptionally well. He’s a strong pitcher who has maintained a good rhythm throughout spring training.

News flash! Yesterday, March 19, Daniel Bard was up on the mound and for the first time since spring training began, he gave up his first 3 runs to the Orioles. Ouch!  This makes him a hard sell. Will he make it to the team, or will he be sent back down to the minors? I will be distraught if he does get sent back down, but Farrell knows best, and if he’s not strong enough to make a comeback, than we won’t be seeing him this season; At least not in the majors.

Whether he reclaims his former glory or not, Bard offers very little appeal in fantasy leagues, as he’s the third option for saves in the Red Sox bullpen.

So, unfortunately, that’s where #51 stands.