KANSAS CITY — Bobby Valentine has had a slow hook with his starters several times this season and it has cost him. But that wasn't the case on Tuesday.
Daniel Bard had thrown 86 pitches through seven innings and outside of the second inning, had handled the Royals well. The two batters due up — Jarrod Dyson and Alex Gordon — were 0 for 6 against him with six groundouts.
“I thought he was in complete control of the game,” Valentine said.
Bard was thinking he could finish the game off and give the overworked bullpen a night off.
Instead he walked Dyson and Gordon on 10 pitches. Then Matt Albers allowed a three-run blast by Billy Butler and the Sox were on the sharp end of a 6-4 loss.
Bard learned a lesson instead of earning a victory.
“There is a fatigue that sets in. It’s about learning how to pitch with that little bit of fatigue,” he said. “It’s not my arm; my arm felt great. It’s your whole body, your legs, your lower back, everything.
“You’ve got to learn how to pitch in those conditions. That’s kind of where I’m at right now, trying to learn how to finish games and get through that 100, 110 pitches strong all the way through the end.”
Valentine was really annoyed after the game, mainly because he felt he did the right thing and it turned out to be wrong.
Even bringing in Albers made sense. He had thrown 9 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings in his previous seven appearances and had allowed only two of the nine runners he inherited to score this season. His sinker was a good bet to get a double play.
“I don’t think there’s an alternative. He’s pitched great,” Valentine said.
Instead he left a sinker up and Butler crushed it.
It was the sixth loss in the last seven games for the Red Sox, now 12-17. Bard is 2-4. In his five starts, the Red Sox have scored an average of 3.8 runs.
A few other notes:
• Will Middlebrooks left the game in the second inning with a tight left hamstring. It was the same issue that caused him to get stretched from the lineup on Saturday.
“It’s not a big deal. It’s kind of a cautionary thing, coming out of the game,” Middlebrooks said. “Hopefully be back in there tomorrow.”
Middlebrooks said his hamstring had never bothered him before Saturday.
Middlebrooks felt the tightness when he doubled in the second. He then ran awkwardly to third base on a single, prompting trainer Rick Jameyson and Valentine to go on the field.
Middlebrooks stayed in the game and scored on a single. But he did not come out to play third base in the bottom of the inning.
“Couldn’t take a chance,” Valentine said.
• To update a note from earlier today, Ben Cherington said after the game there was almost no chance the Red Sox would use Middlebrooks in the outfield once Kevin Youkilis returns.
• Nick Punto is hitless in his last 19 at-bats after going 0 for 2 with a walk tonight. His last hit came April 10.