The Bard is in a slump, and the Red Sox are down three games because of it.
It's an amazing combination, really. A decent start from John Lackey, the Red Sox put up enough offense to take a lead into the eighth, and then Daniel Bard, one of the best setup men in the league, lets it slip through his fingers. It would be downright shocking were it not for the fact that it happened just a week ago.
The "decent start" from Lackey was just that: decent. After giving up two earned runs in the first, the beleaguered starter settled down and fired off four scoreless innings, though the Jays saw plenty of baserunners in between and had a runner cut down at home along the way.
Leaving the game with one out in the sixth and 115 pitches on his arm, Lackey also took with him a chance for a win thanks to some reasonably small ball that had given the Sox three runs through the first five. Adrian Gonzalez would quickly add on another score in the sixth with a leadoff solo shot to right field. Franklin Morales and Alfredo Aceves took care of the middle innings, leaving just the last two to deal with.
As our own mmmmm has pointed out in this fanpost, Bard did not pitch terribly in his outing, only struggling some with command, but the results were certainly awful. A pair of leadoff walks--which are what keep Bard from getting off the hook--proved costly. Bard threw away a sacrifice bunt to load the bases, and while Kevin Youkilis probably could have turned two on the ensuing ground ball, a bobble cost him the chance. A line drive to center field later, and once again Bard had allowed thee runs, and cost the Sox the game.
The Rays lost, too, so at least the wild card lead stayed the same. But there was some extra scary news to go around. With David Ortiz already missing in action due to back spasms, the Red Sox also lost Adrian Goznalez after his homer in the sixth due to calf tightness. One hopes neither he nor Papi will need to miss any of the crucial upcoming games against the Rays.