Red Sox Live Blog: Red Sox Fall 7-3 to Jays, Churn Two Runs in the Ninth

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Red Sox Live Blog: Red Sox Fall 7-3 to Jays, Churn Two Runs in the Ninth

Final, Blue Jays 7-3: The story here was simple — the Red Sox offense can't afford these slow starts and late-inning rallies. The deficit was too huge this time around.

Also, Daniel Bard has the potential to become a strong starter, but he needs to keep that consistency past the fifth and sixth innings. That's been his Achilles' heel since the spring.

Bottom 8th, Blue Jays 7-1: Michael Bowden recorded two strikeouts to toss a scoreless eighth frame.

He's doing what he can do, but considering the hole that Bard and Thomas put the team in, it's tough to bounce back. With the offense struggling, it's obviously harder.

Mid 8th, Blue Jays 7-1: The Red Sox didn't pounce after getting singles from Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis.

But again, the fact that Youkilis has collected two hits should count for something in the right direction.

The slow start in the first four games — and the spring — was seen by many as a cause for concern.

Bottom 7th, Blue Jays 7-1: Edwin Encarnacion uncorks a pitch from Michael Bowden for a solo shot.

The pressure was on Bowden to perform in the spring. Since he was out of options, he was in line to get a look in the bullpen.

But Encarnacion's bomb just keeps making a comeback unlikely.

Mid 7th, Blue Jays 6-1: Ryan Sweeney continued his hot hitting, belting a double.

Earlier in the spring, he siad the key for him to replicate his form and numbers from his White Sox days was simply to get playing time everday. He deems himself a rhythm hitter.

We'll see how he'll adjust when Crawford returns to the lineup and it limits his at-bats.

Bottom 6th, Blue Jays 6-1: This inning was a reminder of Bard's downfalls and negative tendencies from back in the spring.

He'd get it going for a few innings and look unhittable, then unravel in the last frame.

With this outing, he's yielded five runs in five frames. Reliever Justin Thomas didn't help his chances of staying on the roster — when Carl Crawford returns — by allowing those hits and runs that were charged to Bard.

Mid 6th, Blue Jays 3-1: Dustin Pedroia continues to ignite the Red Sox when necessary. The second basemen doubled, which allowed Adrian Gonzalez to hit a sacrifice fly to bring in Jacoby Ellsbury.

As always, Pedroia was chirping about the numbers he was going to unload this year in the Red Sox clubhouse in Fort Myers. He's backing it up so far.

Bottom 5th, Blue Jays 3-0: Even with Bard's hiccups, he showed the starting stuff once again, striking out slugger Jose Bautista.

He has said that Ben Cherington and Bobby Valentine could see the "light at the end of the tunnel" with his development. While he has ways to go, you can understand parts of their perspective.

Mid 5th, Blue Jays 3-0: For the second straight game, the Red Sox offense is starting off slow.

Despite Cody Ross' double, Jarrod Saltalmacchia and Nick Punto couldn't advance him to cut the deficit.

If the Sox are planning to make the ninth inning rally a regular, they'll be giving Bobby Valentine some really high blood pressure.

Bottom 4th, Blue Jays 3-0: Daniel Bard really needed that 1-2-3 inning right there. After a long third inning, his pitch count was escalating quickly.

Like Felix Doubront, I think these guys will figure out ways to become more efficient. That's likely part of the transition of being a young starter.

Bob McClure raved about Bard's fluid delivery in Fort Myers and really likes his potential.

Mid 4th, Blue Jays 3-0: Kyle Drabek is really making up for last season, shutting down Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis in this inning.

Maybe, just maybe, he's figuring it out and could make the other side of the Roy Halladay trade from Philadelphia count.

Bottom 3rd, Blue Jays 3-0: It looks like Bard has been shifting primarily between fastballs and sliders and hasn't attempted many changeups.

That will be the pitch that will be integral to the outcome of this experiment. In the spring, Valentine got on Bard after one outing for a lack of changeups.

Well, Brett Lawrie and Adam Lind made Bard pay, hitting RBI singles to balloon the lead.

Mid 3rd, Blue Jays 1-0: For those of you wondering why Nick Punto is in for Mike Aviles, Bobby Valentine told reporters in Toronto that Aviles twisted his ankle slightly on Monday.

If necessary, Aviles could have played. Considering the season is young, it wasn't worth risking that, and it was wise to get Punto some more at-bats.

Bottom 2nd, Blue Jays 1-0: Daniel Bard got through this sequence much easier than before, retiring the Blue Jays' batters in 1-2-3 fashion.

All spring long, he kept talking about how he was trying to develop a pre-game routine since he wasn't accustomed to four-day breaks in between starts.

He gave the example of how John Lackey walks around in the clubhouse in his underwear while eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before each start. Needless to say, that wasn't the best mental picture for all of us.

Mid 2nd, Blue Jays 1-0: Although the Red Sox didn't score any runs, it certainly must have been encouraging for the team to see Kevin Youkilis get a double.

Heading into the game, Youkilis was the only regular who hadn't tallied a hit this season. As we've reiterated, he's overhauled his swing.

As for the rest of the lineup, Kyle Drabek has been shutting them down, getting three strikeouts. He's mixed his two- and four-seamers in there pretty well.

Bottom 1st, Blue Jays 1-0: The Daniel Bard experiment from reliever to starter showed signs of promise and signs of struggle.

He surrendered three hits and one run, which wasn't ideal. But he escaped the pressure, tossing a series of sliders to strike out Brett Lawrie.

The velocity on his pitches was where he wanted it to be, hitting 95 to 98 mph.

Mid 1st, 0-0: This was a quick sequence as Blue Jays pitcher Kyle Drabek got Ellsbury on a groundout, Pedroia on a strikeout and Gonzalez on a popup.

Last season, the Red Sox whacked Drabek around in two appearances. The 24-year-old surrendered 12 runs in two starts and took the loss on one of them.

He's started off crisp so far.

6 p.m.: Here are the lineups.

Red Sox

Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
David Ortiz, DH
Kevin Youkilis, 3B
Ryan Sweeney, RF
Cody Ross, LF
Jarrod Salatalmacchia, C
Nick Punto, SS
Daniel Bard, P

Blue Jays

Yunel Escobar, SS
Kelly Johnson, 2B
Jose Bautista, RF
Adam Lind, 1B
Edwin Encarnacion, DH
Brett Lawrie, 3B
Eric Thames, LF
J.P. Arencibia, C
Colby Rasmus, CF
Kyle Drabek, P

8 a.m. ET: This is arguably the most talked about start for the Red Sox in quite some time. In the second game against the Blue Jays (2-2), the Red Sox (1-3) will have Daniel Bard on the mound as the 26-year-old officially begins his conversion from reliever to starter. It will signal Bard’s first start since 2007, when he was in the minors.

But there is more on the line for Bard. With the bullpen struggling just a bit in Andrew Bailey’s absence — with the exception of Monday’s outing — to close it out, there has been chatter that Bard should return to the bullpen to inherit closing duties. While general manager Ben Cherington insists the team remains committed to Bard as a starter, it’s a situation worth monitoring.

First pitch is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. ET. For all the details and analysis of the action, follow the live blog on NESN.com. Also be sure to tune into the game on NESN.

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