This is somehow terribly, terribly appropriate. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-US PRESSWIRE
Daniel Bard pitched surprisingly well, the Red Sox played (surprisingly?) poorly, and the result was a fourth loss and second blowout in five games.
Bard did just about everything you could ask of a starter except, perhaps, for throwing his changeup. He struck batters out, didn't walk anyone until the sixth, induced a ton of ground balls, and maintained his velocity going late into the game. His slider was tight, loopy, or frisbee-like as he wanted it, and aside from one questionable fastball in the third, he was able to overpower batters, tie them up inside, or get them to chase up in the zone as he wanted.
The problem was that he couldn't strike everyone out, and when the ball was put in play, it was an absolute disaster behind him. Kevin Youkilis looked immobile at third and Nick Punto incompetent at short. Dustin Pedroia was not quite as showstopping as usual--that's about all you can ever say in criticism of his defense--and Adrian just didn't have enough hit to him. You get the feeling that if the hitters had been grounding it to the right side, this might have been a very different game, but they weren't, and it wasn't.
If there's a concern for Bard, it's that he did seem to lose some control in the latest stage of the game, but all-in-all it was a tremendously positive outing, particularly for a pitcher who gave up five earned runs.
Then there's the offense...
It's hard to diagnose the real problems right here tonight. One rally died when Kevin Youkilis grounded into a double play, but then again he had a couple of hits tonight. It's clear that the Sox can't keep getting so little from the back end in Cody Ross, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Nick Punto--and it wouldn't hurt if Jacoby Ellsbury, dare I say it, added some loft back into his swing--but the team should have put up more of a fight, which is perhaps supported by the Red Sox' late surge.
One thing that I'm sure will get plenty of attention tomorrow is the decision to use Justin Thomas in the sixth when the Jays had runners on the corners with zero outs. It's not the right call in my mind, but perhaps not so bad as it seems. Padilla and Atchison were likely off the table due to their recent work, Franklin Morales is kind of becoming a must-have for important situations, Ace is sadly locked into the closer role, and other than that there's Mark Melancon, Matt Albers, and Michael Bowden.
You probably put Morales in, yes, but the other options were not so much better that it's egregious, and if Valentine was looking at this as taking a risk and conserving his sure things for a more winnable situation, then maybe it wasn't the worst thing to just play the matchup and go with the unfortunate Justin Thomas.
1-4 is no fun, but it's better than 0-6, and Bard pitched well. It's not quite the end of the world as we know it, though depending on who you ask that happened the night the Yankees signed Kuroda.