The Red Sox fell to the Blue Jays 3-7 Tuesday night as the infield defense let down an impressive Daniel Bard, and the lineup went quiet when it counted to send the Sox to 1-4 on the season.
While Daniel Bard would finish the night with five earned runs to his name, he had a deceptively strong outing. A run would come across in the first when Kevin Youkilis and Nick Punto each allowed ground ball singles that perhaps should not have been, and two more in the third as balls slipped through the right side of the infield--though an 0-2 pitch to Adam Lind was rather too good for the situation.
The real damage would come in the sixth, when a leadoff walk and another poor play by the left side of the defense with Kevin Youkilis failing to cover third and Nick Punto throwing late to first cost the Sox a pair of runners with zero outs. Bobby Valentine turned to Justin Thomas, and was punished for it, as the career minor leaguer walked the first batter he faced and ultimately let three runs come in to score. A moonshot from Edwin Encarnacion off of Michael Bowden later in the game accounted for the seventh run.
The Sox would waste multiple scoring opportunities throughout the game, only cashing in for one run in the sixth despite having runners at second and third with no outs. They would stage another ninth inning rally, but the Jays were well out of reach by that point, leaving their two-run push wasted.
Impressive Daniel Bard: Five earned in five innings is bad, but it's much more the fault of the defense than Daniel Bard. 5 innings, 6 strikeouts, 1 walk, and 10 balls on the ground should produce much better results, but the infield just could not get it done. Unless this proves to be a historically bad defensive unit, nights like this will serve Daniel Bard well in the future if he can keep producing them.
Nick Punto the Pointless: It's getting harder to understand the purpose of Nick Punto on this team with every bad defensive play he makes. His hits are mostly on weak contact--he's a poor hitter for his career--and if he can't actually provide positives with his glove, what's the point? Jose Iglesias was a bad idea because Punto was supposed to be able to provide some semblance of that glove as a bench player without robbing Iglesias of the chance to develop into a legitimate Major League player. Right now, however, he's not doing that.
Why Justin Thomas?: It's a question that must be asked. With the game on the line, Bobby Valentine turned to none other than the 25th man on the roster, and one who probably doesn't even deserve that much. Scott Atchison and Vicente Padilla weren't available, and a lefty was up, but why not go to Franklin Morales then?
if there's one thing this decision really made clear, it was the cost of making Alfredo Aceves the closer. Last year this would have been an ideal time for Aceves, but with his window limited to the later innings, the Sox were left with the scraps of the pen to work with, and so we got Thomas...and three more runs.
Slow Call Umpire: It's pretty ridiculous to watch Tim McClellan call strike three on batters halfway down the line to first, and there's really no reason for his delays. That being said, McClellan called one of the better strike zones you're likely to see this year, and with refs getting so much criticism, it's worth noting when they do their jobs well.