Daniel Bard took off his uniform after the game tonight, got the requisite bags of ice strapped to his elbow and shoulder than sat at a laptop in the clubhouse and watched replays of the last pitch he threw to Rick Ankiel.
It was an 0-2 fastball on the inner third of the plate. According to Bard, it was right where he wanted it.
Ankiel swung and the ball hit the handle of the bat, shearing it in half. The top chunk flew at Bard and hit him in the foot. The ball flew over the head of Marco Scutaro and into left field for a two-run single. That was enough to give the Royals a 4-3 victory.
“Most of the time that’s a soft liner and he’s out,” Bard said. “Not much you can do.”
Well, the Sox could have walked the left-handed hitting Ankiel and loaded the bases with two outs to face the ghost of Jose Guillen, a right-handed hitter. Ankiel was 3 for 3 on the night and Guillen 0 for 3. John Farrell went to the mound to talk about it and the Sox decided to go after Ankiel.
Ankiel is a free swinger who struck out in 99 of his 404 plate appearances last season. The Sox thought Bard could get him.
“We’ve got a real aggressive hitter and a guy with some of the best stuff in the league,” Terry Francona said. “We had a good idea, it didn’t work out very well.”
Bard walked the first batter he faced when he came in and has walked three in four innings this season. Loading the bases for a guy having control issues might not have been a great move.
“In that situation, you’re trying to keep anything from scoring. I know it’s certainly open for debate. You have a righty coming up. I completely understand that,” Francona said. “I just think that in that situation with his stuff, he’s better off facing (Ankiel). It didn’t work but I still feel it’s the right thing to do.”
The Sox are 1-3 and face Zack Greinke next. Now there’s trouble.
Expect some lineup changes. David Ortiz — who refused to speak to the media — was called into Francona’s office on his way out of the clubhouse. It looks like Jason Varitek will catch Josh Beckett tomorrow with Victor Martinez possibly the DH.
Meanwhile, here is what the Red Sox bullpen has done so far:
8 earned runs
2 home runs
1-3, 5.50 ERA
At the moment, who do you trust coming out of the bullpen? It’s a short list.