Rapid Reaction: Blue Jays 7, Red Sox 3
April, 10, 2012
By Gordon Edes | ESPNBoston.com
TORONTO -- Hey, the Wright Brothers crashed a few times before they took flight too. We suspect there were occasions that Bell was greeted with silence at the other end of the line, and a time or two when Edison said, “Let there be light” and was greeted with darkness.
(And if I’m wrong about any of the above, blame it on deadline. You can’t have a "Rapid reaction" if you’re constantly looking up stuff.)
So we can say with some assurance that the Red Sox are not about to abandon the Daniel Bard experiment, one start into his conversion from reliever to member of the rotation.
Yes, there were sparks and smoke and strange noises emanating from the laboratory that was Rogers Centre on Tuesday night, not to mention one almost-naked-enough-to-be-a-streaker, if you ignored the white socks and colored skivvies.
And while Bard would have preferred better results -- five runs, eight hits and an unplanned exit two batters into the sixth inning is nobody’s idea of a rousing debut -- there were positives to be taken away.
The 17 swinging strikes, for example, and two whiffs of Jays strongman Jose Bautista. The fastball that touched 98 and was still consistently at 94 at the end of his stint. Some breathtaking sliders, including a beautiful front-door slider he threw to Adam Lind. That he kept the ball in the ballpark -- six of the Jays’ eight hits off Bard came on ground balls -- and he didn’t walk a batter until the sixth.
There was nothing in Bard's start that suggested he was not suited for the role, though next time he might want to bring some luck with him, because he didn’t have any Tuesday.
Not much help: It was still a 3-1 game, the Sox having scored in the top of the sixth on a walk, double by Dustin Pedroia and sacrifice fly by Adrian Gonzalez, when Bard took the mound in the home half of the inning.
He lost Edwin Encarnacion on a 3-and-2 pitch that missed, and when Brett Lawrie beat out an infield hit, Bobby Valentine had seen enough.
Journeyman reliever Justin Thomas, who is keeping a seat warm until a fellow lefty such as Rich Hill or Andrew Miller is ready, wasn’t the answer. He walked the left-handed hitting Eric Thames to load the bases, then fell behind 3-and-1 on J.P. Arencibia, who may have broken his bat but nonetheless lined the next pitch into center for two runs, both charged to Bard.
Bats held in check: The Sox offense, meanwhile, was able to do little against Kyle (son of Doug) Drabek, who may finally be figuring it out. Drabek has always had a great arm, but it’s amazing what a little maturity can do for a guy. Drabek held the Sox to three hits and a run through 5 1/3 innings, then turned the game over to the Jays’ bullpen.
The Sox were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position until the ninth, when Nick Punto singled with two outs and nobody on. Jacoby Ellsbury walked, Pedroia singled to load the bases (1 for 10 with RISP) and Gonzalez hit a ground-rule double down the right-field line (2 for 11) to score two runs to make it 7-3.
But when David Ortiz took a called third strike (2 for 12) from Casey Janssen, it was over, the Sox falling to 1-4.