PHILADELPHIA –– The walks were taking place at a rapid pace.
Minutes into Friday’s 6-4 loss, Daniel Bard issued free passes to three of the first four batters he faced. His breaking ball didn’t connect against Jimmy Rollins, and his fastballs started straying away from the strike zone.
The control issues resulted in a four-run first inning for the Phillies. While Bard lasted five innings, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine was visibly frustrated with the 26-year-old hurler, who has recorded more walks (25) than strikeouts (23) this season.
“The walks –– they aren’t acceptable,” Valentine said. “That amount of walks, you can’t leave your team out there and you can’t keep letting those guys on base. It’s tough to hit in the strike zone, might as well throw it in there. But I know he’s trying to.”
Shortly after misfiring, Bard unraveled physically and mentally. He went on to walk Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence in the first inning before surrendering a two-run single to Carlos Ruiz.
“[The leadoff walk] just put me in a little bit of a funk,” Bard said. “I didn’t respond to it real well. When you get out of your delivery a little bit, the best thing to do is step off, take a breath and hit the reset button. I never did that.
“I tried to power through it a little bit. You can’t do that, especially early in the game. It’s probably something that should have lasted two or three pitches as far coming out of my delivery a little bit. It ended up lasting 12-15 pitches. That’s my fault.”
In addition to his lackluster command, Bard’s velocity dropped to the 93 to 94 mph range. It was significantly lower than the 97 mph heat that Bard has typically showcased.
“I knew there’d be somewhat of a drop-off velocity wise when I went to starting, I thought when I needed I could reach back for 96, 97,” Bard said. “That hasn’t been the case obviously, because the stuff hasn’t been there. If I can just establish strike one a little more consistently, the velocity can be whatever it wants to be.”
Friday’s outing marked the third straight start that Bard has posted more walks than strikeouts.
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