Naturally, it was going to be Bard who kept us from sweeping. Bard was absolutely horrible. It was a miracle that he didn’t give up even more runs in an even shorter period of time. I’m telling you, it’s been a very long time since I’ve seen a starting pitcher look that lost and with that extensive a lack of command or control. He couldn’t find the strike zone even if we paid him to. Oh, wait. We do pay him to, and he still couldn’t do it.
He only lasted one and two-thirds innings, so obviously Bobby V. shouldn’t even have bothered to start him; he should have just rolled out the bullpen for the whole thing, since that’s basically what he ended up doing. He allowed five runs on just one hit. That was the game right there. The Jays didn’t score any more runs, just those five. He also walked six and struck out two. He threw fifty-five pitches.
If you thought that all but one of those runs could be accounted for by a grand slam, you’d be wrong. Bard wishes he gave up a grand slam. Instead, he walked the first two batters he faced on five pitches each and then allowed a home run on the eighth pitch of the at-bat. He then walked another batter, this one on four pitches, and somehow then induced a double play and a flyout to end the inning.
The second inning was more of the same. He walked a batter on four pitches and the next one on six pitches. Then, he somehow, by some miracle, posted two three-pitch strikeouts. But then he hit a batter, walked in another run on six pitches, and then hit another batter, which brought in another run.
And that was when he was removed. Because there’s a difference between having a bad day because you’re allowing lots of hits and having a bad day because you’re not even making the opposing batters hit the ball at all; you’re just delivering free passes to them on a silver platter. We’ve seen plenty of pitchers this season have plenty of bad days because they’ve given up plenty of hits and home runs, but I don’t think we’ve seen a start quite like this. I can’t even say that the Jays took batting practice off of Bard because he didn’t give them anything to swing at. He just let them get on base. That wasn’t even baseball; that, both literally and figuratively, was a walk in the park.
Morales finished the second inning as well as the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth. Atchison pitched the seventh, and Hill pitched the eighth.
So while the Jays were having their nice walk in the park, we were doing a whole lot of nothing. Just like Bard, but at the plate also. Like the Jays, we ended the game with six hits, but unlike the Jays, we also ended the game with only one run. And that was courtesy of Shoppach, who hit a nice opposite-field solo shot with two out in the fifth. It landed behind the fence in right center field. It was a fastball, the third pitch of the at-bat. Our only other extra-base hit was a double by Gonzalez. Aviles had our only multi-hit performance; he went two for four. By the way, the whole team drew a grand total of one walk. Nava was the one who worked it, and in case you were curious, he didn’t hit anything all night.
So the relief corps deserves an absolutely incredibly hard-earned and well-deserved bat on the back and round of applause for their effective, hard work, which perhaps would have won us the ballgame if it provided the ballgame’s only pitching, but all in all it was a brutally embarrassing and humiliating game by all accounts.
I’ll give you one last anecdote to drive home how truly horrific to the point of otherworldly this game was. Youk got hit in the sixth. The pitch hit him in his left shoulder and then appeared to ricochet slightly off his helmet. Youk pointed to his belt to show where the pitch should have been located. But neither Youk nor Drew Hutchinson even made a move, and neither bench emptied. Because the benches probably understood what Hutchinson should have understood before he hit Youk. Now, I’m not saying that Hutchinson did it on purpose. I’m not even saying that Hutchinson tried to do it on purpose. But I am saying that Hutchinson very possibly did it on purpose and that, if indeed Hutchinson did it on purpose, it was almost certainly as a retaliatory measure. But first of all he should have hit lower because you never want to aim a baseball anywhere near someone’s head, and secondly, he should have realized that it was completely unnecessary because Bard wasn’t hitting the Jays on purpose. Bard, in fact, was just that bad.