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Red Sox notebook

It is a stretch to say Bard is pitching well

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / May 24, 2012
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BALTIMORE - Daniel Bard junked his delivery in the fourth inning Wednesday, pitching from the stretch as he tried to find some way to get the ball over the plate.

It paid off in the sense that he pitched long enough to get the victory against the Orioles, going 5 1/3 innings in a game the Red Sox won, 6-5. But it was another game in which Bard struggled.

The righthander allowed two runs on five hits with four walks, a hit batter, and two strikeouts.

“I couldn’t maintain a consistent delivery or arm slot,’’ Bard said. “I battled as much as I could. I was able to keep them to two runs and keep us in the ballgame.’’

Manager Bobby Valentine credited catcher Kelly Shoppach with nursing Bard through his outing.

In his last five starts, Bard (4-5) has walked 19 and struck out nine over 28 2/3 innings.

“It’s really weird,’’ Bard said. “They’re not hitting the ball hard consistently off me. It’s just a struggle getting ahead in the count. My head’s in a good place and I feel confident out there. But I’m having trouble repeating the delivery at the same time.’’

Right again

Adrian Gonzalez was back in right field for the fourth time in the last five games. The ball came his way three times, and Gonzalez made both catches he should have made. The other was a bloop single.

Gonzalez caught a line drive in the first inning, and in the fourth he made a nice running backhanded catch going toward the foul line. He then turned and bounced off the padded wall.

“Totally impressed,’’ Valentine said. “You kidding? He was a stride to the wall and he knew to roll. The line drive was no day at the beach, either. Hooking and topspin.’’

Gonzalez has played flawlessly in the outfield in the four games he has been out there.

“I’m a defensive specialist,’’ he said, smiling. “It’s not like I’m hitting.’’

Valentine wasn’t sure he was going to use Gonzalez in right field again but checked with him three hours before the game.

“Play me wherever you want,’’ Gonzalez said.

The expansive right field at Fenway Park could be a challenge for Gonzalez, but there are no plans to have him play left.

“There has been some thought,’’ said Valentine. “There might be continuing conversation. For the most part, when you’re on one side of the diamond and you see the ball off the bat and get your reaction, and then try to change that perspective, it becomes more challenging from what I’ve experienced, not only personally but talking to players.’’

Catching up

Andrew Bailey, who had thumb surgery just before the season, has started playing catch at the team complex in Fort Myers, Fla., and Wednesday was out to 60 feet . . . Darnell McDonald, one of the team’s seven outfielders on the disabled list, started swinging a bat for the first time since he was sidelined with an oblique strain. “It was nice to swing,’’ he said. “I felt good. I want to get back fast.’’ . . . It has been four weeks since Carl Crawford had an injection of platelet-rich plasma in his left elbow to try to heal a partially torn ligament. He could start swinging a bat this weekend . . . Yet another injured outfielder, Ryan Kalish, has started playing extended spring training games in Florida. He is returning from shoulder surgery. Kalish could join a minor league affiliate next month.

Rolling along

The Red Sox played for the 20th time in 20 days in five cities. They were 12-8. “I haven’t experienced these travel things and 20 days in row for a while, and I couldn’t be more happy with the way the guys reacted to all this stuff,’’ Valentine said. “The schedule, the travel, the injuries, the weather. There’s been no complaining; guys going well beyond the call of duty. For me, it’s a great thing to see as a manager, the way they’ve really come together.’’

A striking fact

Red Sox starter Felix Doubront struck out nine batters Tuesday night, as did Orioles starter Brian Matusz. It was the first time two lefthanders had nine or more strikeouts in the same game since July 23, 2006, when Erik Bedard of the Orioles had 10 and Scott Kazmir of the Rays had nine. The nine strikeouts were a career high for Doubront. Outside of Jon Lester, he is the first Red Sox lefty to strike out as many as nine since Casey Fossum in 2002 and the first on the road (other than Lester, of course) since Bruce Hurst in 1988 in Seattle. Doubront has 53 strikeouts in 50 innings. His average of 9.54 per nine innings is the best for American League lefthanders.

An active bat

Kevin Youkilis was 2 for 3 with a walk and is 3 for 6 since being activated off the disabled list. He started at first base again . . . Dustin Pedroia (1 for 5) has reached base in 22 of the last 24 games . . . Andrew Miller’s streak of eight scoreless innings ended when Nick Johnson hit a two-run homer off him in the sixth inning . . . Will Middlebrooks has hit safely in 15 of his 21 games.

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