Red Sox Bullpen Victimized by Six Walks in Sixth Inning, Ensuring Losing Season


Red Sox Bullpen Victimized by Six Walks in Sixth Inning, Ensuring Losing Season

Editor's
note: NESN.com is going to tell the story of the 2012 Red Sox in Bobby
Valentine's words. Each game day, we will select a Valentine quote that sums up
the day for the Red Sox.

The final nail was drilled into Boston's coffin.

For the first time since 1997, the Red Sox will finish a
major league season with a sub-.500 record. A disastrous pitching performance
in a 13-3 loss to the Rays sealed the team's 82nd loss in a 162-game
season.

But the final score of Wednesday's game doesn't indicate how
close the game was at one point. Heading into the sixth inning, the Rays were
leading the Red Sox by a slim 5-3 margin.

The relief pitching then imploded in the bottom of that
frame, a nightmare inning that lasted roughly 28 minutes. Walks doomed the Red Sox,
with Alfredo Aceves, Daniel Bard and Andrew Miller combining to issue six
walks in the span.

Their woes resulted in seven Tampa Bay runs, even more
eye-popping since the Rays only mustered up four hits in the frame.

"It's tough for the guys standing around and watching
that," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine told reporters in attendance.
"They got to find the strike zone."

The inning demonstrated the severity of Boston's fall from
grace over the past year. Last season, the Aceves-to-Bard sequence in the
bullpen was a staple of the Red Sox' winning ways in tight contests.

Red Sox Bullpen Victimized by Six Walks in Sixth Inning, Ensuring Losing SeasonOne year later, both are mere shells of themselves — especially Bard. In 1/3 inning of work, the former set-up man experienced his
worst outing since his call-up, tossing 16 pitches with only four landing for
strikes.

Once again, his velocity and command was nowhere to be
found.

"It looks like he's just trying too hard," Valentine
said. "We're trying to get him where he can have some kind of good feeling
about this season at the end. It's tough."

In the process, Bard issued three walks en route to allowing
three runs. Before his struggles cropped up, Aceves walked two batters and
wound up being charged for four runs to raise his ERA to 5.00.

Things snowballed when Miller — who entered with a 3.29 ERA and
allowed 16 walks in 49 appearances — gave up two bases on balls before getting
pulled. It took a fourth pitcher, Scott Atchison, to stop the bleeding.

"It just got away from us," Valentine said. "It
was tough to look at."

And
it sums up the pitching problems that have plagued the Red Sox.

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