Opposing runners stole more bases (156) and attempted more stolen bases (206) against the Red Sox than against any other team in the American League last season. In April alone, opposing runners stole 27 bases in 35 attempts against the Red Sox. No team allowed more stolen bases or saw teams attempt more stolen bases against them.Jarrod Saltalamacchia:
That's not the case this year. Even though opponents have gotten on base plenty against Red Sox pitchers - they've allowed 183 hits, third-most in the American League - they're not running much. An American League-low eight runners have tried to steal bases against the Red Sox this season.
That seven of those eight have been successful almost is beside the point — especially from the perspective of the pitching staff. The Red Sox have played the New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays and the Texas Rangers, three of the most prolific base-stealing teams in the American League. None of those teams has been able to get good-enough jumps off the Red Sox pitching staff.
Runners are a lot like hitters, a lot like pitchers. They get into patterns and routines. A lot of guys, if you pick twice, they won't go. If you hold for a few seconds, they won't go. They'll shut it down. They're going on timing. If you can disrupt their timing, just like you disrupt a hitter's timing, it shuts it down completely — and now you're in a double-play situation instead having a man on second where, on a ground ball through the hole, he scores.
Figuring out how to pitch out of the windup for the first time since 2008. Check. Heading into his third start, Bard had allowed just four hits and four walks in 28 plate appearances with nobody on base.Bard:
Become pitch efficient. The last three innings against the White Sox he threw just 28 pitches, 20 of which were for strikes.
And, last but nowhere near least, make sure there is ample pitch diversity.
Once thought to be a fastball-first pitcher, Bard has not only developed a slider that may actually be his best pitch, but also a highly effective changeup which he incorporated a career-high 24 times Friday night. In fact, of the 58 changeups he has thrown this season, only one - A.J. Pierzynski's first-inning double - has resulted in a hit.
I do feel like I've gotten better with each outing, going back to the spring. I've gotten more comfortable with throwing off-speed in fastball counts. I'm more consistently throwing strike one with my fastball, which tonight was huge for me. So, just a combination of things. I'm just learning the nuances of starting. Tonight was I feel like a step in the right direction. ... I kind of have something that locks me back in [keeping his delivery and mechanics in sync] that I hadn't really incorporated before, it's just a little mental cue for me that I hadn't quite figured out the last couple of starts.Bobby Valentine:
He had the adversity inning there in the third, we didn't catch one on a bloop, he came back, made very good pitches and wasn't distracted by it. We had two 20-minute innings where he had to sit in the dugout with a six-pitch inning of his own in between. Then went right back out and threw strikes ... The first time we looked at him we wondered if he could have a windup. We got through the windup, then we were worried about the third pitch. He got the third pitch, then we were worried about his ability to go more than 60 pitches. He just keeps progressing, he's doing well.Peter Abraham, Globe:
If I told you that the Red Sox could trade for a 26-year-old starter with a 95-mph fastball, what would you think?Through four starts, Bard has the best ERA on the staff:
This starter has an an above-average slider, an improving changeup, and has shown he can go seven innings without losing velocity on his fastball. He is a proven commodity against American League East hitters and won't be a free agent for another four years.
Like what you hear? Of course you do.
Then why would you move Daniel Bard to the bullpen?
ERA WHIP Daniel Bard 3.72 1.703 Felix Doubront 4.09 1.455 Josh Beckett 4.56 1.169 Jon Lester 6.00 1.500 Clay Buchholz 8.87 1.925And speaking of the bullpen, since the Yankees scored their 15th run last Saturday, Red Sox relievers have pitched 15 innings, allowing only one run on nine hits, walking two and striking out 11.
One of the most impressive outings was Junichi Tazawa's three innings on Thursday. It was only the fourth time since 2003 that a Red Sox reliever pitched at least three innings for a save. The other three times occurred last year (Alfredo Aceves twice, Scott Atchison once). Before that, Casey Fossum and Bronson Arroyo did it in 2003.