I can not believe this. We just whipped the Jays big time, and yesterday we couldn’t buy a run when we needed it most. That’s the nature of the game, I guess. But it’s brutal.
Lackey delivered one of his finer performances of the season. He opened the sixth by allowing a single, which quickly turned into a man on third after a steal and a throwing error by Tek. After he got his second batter to fly out, he was pulled in favor of Morales. Lackey only gave up two runs on seven hits while walking only one and striking out four. He threw 115 pitches, seventy-nine of which were strikes. The velocity was up on his fastball, and his slider was especially deadly. He also threw a decent curveball and a handful or so of changeups into the mix.
Meanwhile, the offense was more or less doing its job. Lackey gave up his two runs in the first on thirty-one pitches; we tied the game at two in the second. Two singles plus a fielding error yielded one run, and a groundout yielded the other.
We moved ahead in the third; Ellsbury led it off with a triple and scored on a sac fly by Scutaro. We picked up some insurance in the sixth when Gonzalez led it off with a dinger into the bullpen on the first pitch he saw, a fastball. He left the game in the next inning with a tight left calf.
Meanwhile, Morales had finished off a scoreless sixth, and Aceves finished off a scoreless seventh. And then we had to give the ball to Bard, who is in the process of showing everyone why he may not be ready to close just yet. I don’t know what’s going on with him. I don’t know why he’s suddenly ruining ballgames.
It all started with a five-pitch walk. Bard followed that with a four-pitch walk. And right then and there I knew that something would go horribly wrong. Any pitcher who starts an inning with nine pitches, only one of which is a strike, is in for a long night. And any fastball pitcher who is clearly having trouble with mechanics on the mound is in for a really long night.
Anyway, he made a throwing error on a sac bunt that resulted in a bases-loaded situation with nobody out. When he gave up his first run on a groundout, technically it was unearned, but it was unearned because he made the error, so it’s still his responsibility anyway. He then gave up a single that scored two more runs. After that, he induced a double play. Paps pitched a scoreless ninth for naught, Frank Francisco for some reason saw fit not to give up a home run today, and we lost, 5-4.
At that point, of course, it didn’t matter that we saved a run at home in the sixth with a textbook play at the plate that Tek somehow completed despite a forceful collision. This is the third straight appearance in which he’s given up at least one run. Since September 5, so in just over one week, Bard’s ERA has inflated by a whole point. Not a fraction of a point. A whole point. It went from 2.10 to 3.10. Good things included Papi’s nomination for the 2011 Roberto Clemente Award and Wake being honored for his two hundredth win. Bad things included Bard.
On a different note, next season’s schedule is out. The theme? Division rivalry, as usual. We start in Detroit on April 5 and play the Jays in Toronto before our home opener with the Rays, followed by the Rangers and Yanks. We’ve got three days off scattered among those series before another road trip. The first two weeks of May will be easy; we’re back home for the A’s and O’s, away for the Royals, and then back home for the Indians and Mariners before going on the road for the Rays and Phillies. We get a break with the Orioles before one of two days off in May, and then we’re home for the Rays and Tigers. We’ve got three days off in a pretty easy July, when Interleague is in full swing. We play the Yanks at home before the All-Star Game that should obviously have been scheduled in Boston but is in Kansas City instead for some bizarre and unfathomable reason, and then we play the Rays on the road. Then we’re back at home for about a week before dealing with the Rangers and Yanks on the road again. We play the Rangers and Yanks again in August, but we also play the O’s and Royals. We’ve got a series with the Yanks and two with the Rays in September, and we end the season in New York in October. All in all, lots of division rival games, but they’re mixed in with some easier teams, there’s a nice balance of home and away. And Fenway Park turns one hundred years old! Sounds pretty good to me!