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Hard-throwing Bard comes through under pressure

The Sports Xchange
 
Notes, Quotes · Hard-throwing Bard comes through under pressure · Roster Report
 

Clay Buchholz got credit for the victory Wednesday against the Athletics, and Jonathan Papelbon earned his first four-out save since last Aug. 9 against the Yankees.

But if the Red Sox were inclined to hand out a game ball, like a football team, it would have gone to Daniel Bard.

Bard, the hard-throwing reliever, bailed Buchholz out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam with the Red Sox leading 4-1 in the sixth inning, then pitched a scoreless seventh.

"That was the game right there," manager Terry Francona said after Boston closed out a 5-3 win. "You have heard me talk about it time and time again, the game can be won in the sixth or seventh. To me, that was it. He came in and stopped it. That's why I said he's a big weapon. That's what it is. We have the ability to pitch him with the game on the line, and he's one of the best in the league. He can get left-handers, obviously he can get right-handers, he holds runners. When there are runners on base, that's who we want to bring in."

It wasn't the first time Bard had made a Houdini-like escape after inheriting a bases-loaded jam. Flash back to last season, Aug. 9 at Yankee Stadium, when he struck out Derek Jeter and Nick Swisher to take Jon Lester off a bases-loaded, one-out hook.

Bard's secret? Slow things down.

To wit: Upon entering the game Wednesday after rushing through his warm-up in the bullpen, he asked the grounds crew to work on the mound, which was slippery because it had been raining.

"That gave me a second to collect my thoughts, think about how I was going to attack (Cliff Pennington)," Bard said. "Little things like that can help you."

It helps to be lucky, too. The second batter he faced was Coco Crisp, who hit a ball deep down the left field line that landed just foul. A few feet to the right, and it would have been a bases-clearing double, just like the game-winning double that Bard allowed to the Rangers' David Murphy on Opening Day.

"I said after, 'There's no one happier in the ballpark that it went foul than me,' but then I realized Buch was there, too. He was probably happier," Bard said. "It's good to have some luck like that."

After the foul ball, Bard got Crisp to pop out to end the inning.

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2014 Team Leaders
AVGDustin Pedroia , 2B.278
HRDavid Ortiz , DH35
RBIDavid Ortiz , DH104
OBPDavid Ortiz , DH.355
SLGDavid Ortiz , DH.517
RYoenis Cespedes , LF89
SBBrock Holt , 3B12
WClay Buchholz , SP8
ERAClay Buchholz , SP5.34
WHIPClay Buchholz , SP1.39
KClay Buchholz , SP132
SVKoji Uehara , RP26
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