Sox, Tigers Recap: Beating The Odds – Bard Bests Verlander, Sox Roll 6-3


Daniel Bard vs. Justin Verlander. Although this is baseball and anything can happen, you kinda know what you’re going to get.

Verlander is the pitching machine whose form and resulting function make him the envy of every MLB manager who wants a bonafide ace. His 5-2 record could easily be 7-0. He leads the American League in ERA (2.15), strike outs (tied with Felix Hernandez at 75), team batting average against (.172) and WHIP (0.81). Verlander has gone at least six innings in his last 62 starts. Think about that. The guy never gets hammered. Verlander is the real deal and everybody knows it, period.

Daniel Bard is the “please love me” starting pitching wanna be whose in/out/up/down inconsistency makes you pray that Dice-K doesn’t make a comeback just so you don’t have to watch two of these guys alternately dominate and then fail to find the plate with radar. Bard is 4-5. Bard’s ERA (4.69) is 36th in the AL. He is 63rd in strikeouts, is 31st (.261) in team batting average against and his WHIP is 1.56, 50th in the league.

"With Verlander you have to take advantage of every opportunity to grab a run because on any given night one is all he might need to seal the deal. With Bard, you have to wait him out until he once again proves he’s a set up man or closer in a starter’s role who’ll eventually melt down. But baseball is a curious game. A Bard vs.Verlander matchup is why we watch."

It was an upside down game at Fenway Park last night as Boston tagged Verlander for six hits and four runs through four innings while Daniel Bard gave up four hits and just one run through four.  While it appeared Verlander was going to go about his business mowing down Boston hitters (5 Ks through the first four innings) they chipped away at the for-sure Hall of Famer with a run in the second on a David Ortiz two out double, a Jarrod Saltalamacchia single and Mike Aviles force out grounder to score Ortiz and take a 1-0 lead.

In the fourth inning Kevin Youkilis singled to start the frame and Aviles singled after a Salty K. Scott Podsednik singled to load the bases and a very hot Daniel Nava lowered the boom. After working the count to 3-2, Nava doubled to clear the bases and put the Sox up 4-0. Bard gave up a solo shot to Jhonny Peralta to open the fifth but shut down the Tigers after striking out the always dangerous Miguel Cabrera with two aboard.

What was I saying about Verlander never getting hammered? In the fifth inning Adrian Gonzalez banged him for a hard double and David Ortiz scorched another double to plate  Gonzo. With those hits and runs, Verlander had already given up a season high eight hits and five runs. Go Sox!

Things looked a little more Bardian in the sixth when Prince Fielder savaged a belt-high, over the plate meatball and took Bard deep into the night way past Williamsburg for a solo shot to make it 5-2. One batter later Bard exited after a very respectable five hits, two earned runs, two walks and four strikeouts. Rich Hill entered and shut down Detroit to close the frame. When Verlander left after six innings he’d given up 10 hits and six runs. That’s why we watch.

A quintet of Sox relievers held the Tigers to just one more run over the next three rain-delayed innings to notch the 6-3 win. Boston improved to over .500 and gained ground in the division as the Orioles lost to the Blue Jays. At the time of this post, the Yankees were down 3-1 against the Angels after an Albert Pujols two-run bomb off Andy Pettitte.