Game 5: Red Sox 3, Blue Jays 7 (1-4)
The Red Sox and Blue Jays play the second game a three game series in Toronto, having narrowly won the first, 4-2.
Daniel Bard made the first regular season start of his major league career as the Red Sox fell to the Blue Jays.
For five innings Bard kept the Blue Jays on their toes and the Red Sox in the game. Entering the sixth inning, the Red Sox down 3-1, Bard had already thrown 90 pitches and it started to show. With runners on first and third and no outs recorded, manager Bobby Valentine made the call to the pen. Journeyman lefty, Justin Thomas would enter the game, Valentine seeking to matchup against the left-handed-hitting outfielder, Eric Thames, though Thames would draw a walk.
The bases loaded, catcher J.P. Arencibia drove a single to left-center, brining in two runs and breaking the game open, the score now 5-1. Thomas retired the next three batters on seven pitches to end the 6th.
The Red Sox offense looked punchless for the fourth time in five games to start the season. Five players doubled in the game, but it would go to waste. The team hit a collective 2-11 with RISP, with both hits coming in the top of the ninth.
For the Blue Jays, Kyle Drabek went five and a third innings holding the Red Sox to 1 run (3 H, 3 BB, 3 K). He looked good early on, striking out four of the first eight batters he faced.
In the sixth inning, with the Blue Jays up 3-0, Drabek appeared to lose his control. He walked Jacoby Ellsbury to start the inning, follow by a double by Dustin Pedroia. A sacrifice fly to right field by Adrian Gonzalez scored Ellsbury, the first run of the game for the Red Sox, and moved Pedroia to third base. Drabek walked the next batter, David Ortiz and a pitching change would follow. Right-handed reliever Jason Frasor came into to face Kevin Youkilis, drawing a double play to end the inning.
Though the Red Sox would add two runs in the ninth, it was too little too late.
Daniel Bard struck out six and walked one over five innings. It was a very strong outing for the young starter to build upon.
Bard threw 96 pitches, 65 for strikes. He relied most heavily on his four-seam fastball (35) and sinker (21), throwing both pitches mostly for strikes. Both sat at 94-95 MPH. His velocity held well, still hitting 93-94 in the sixth inning. He mixed in his his slider (34), and less frequently, his changeup (6).
Four of six strikeouts were recorded on Bard’s slider, which he threw for both strikes and swinging strikes. Batters swung and missed on 27% of sliders thrown. He threw his changeup almost exclusively against LHH, where it drifts low and away from the batter, as opposed to down and in on RHH.
All of the Blue Jays eight hits against Bard were on fastballs and sinkers. At a closer look, a whole lot of solice might be found in the batted balls types. Of the 14 combined fastballs and sinkers put in play, nine went for ground balls and two for infield hits, while just two flyballs and one line drive. He also drew one groundout on his slider and changeup, the only time either ball was put in play.
Groundballs are preferable to fly balls, if only because it’s pretty tough to hit a ground ball homerun. If Bard can induce ground balls on a consistent basis as he did tonight, while maintaining a healthy strikeout to walk ratio, then good things are ahead.
All pitch fx data courtesy of Brooksbaseball.net.