Balls and Strikes

Former Tar Heel gets save with Red Sox

STAFF WRITERJune 14, 2009 

Former North Carolina right-hander Daniel Bard now has a major league save.

Bard, a hard-throwing right-hander who was called up from Triple-A Pawtucket by the Boston Red Sox on May 10, pitched the final inning of Boston's 5-2, 13-inning victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday night to get the save.

On a night when the Sox didn't want to use closer Jonathan Pabelbon, Bard got the call. He was making his 10th appearance for the Sox, but was in his first save situation.

Bard, whose fastball has been clocked at 100 mph, walked a batter and hit a batter but got all three outs on strikeouts to pitch a scoreless 13th.

Bard has been in the majors for a month, but he said the juices were flowing when he came out of the pen and the victory was on the line.

"A lot of adrenaline, but I've closed games before -- not at this level or that caliber of hitters," Bard told "You could see it with the fastballs I was leaving up. That's just a little bit of extra adrenaline. Fortunately, I was able to get enough of them down and throw the breaking ball for strikes when I needed to. That was enough to get me through."

Bard, a first-round draft pick by the Red Sox in the 2006 draft, began his minor league career as a starter. The results were not good -- he was 3-7 with a 7.08 ERA with two Class A teams in 2007.

After moving to the bullpen in 2008, however, his career took off. In 2008, he was 5-1 with a 1.51 ERA and seven saves. He finished the season in Double-A and began this year with Pawtucket.

After a month, he was promoted to the big leagues.

He was impressive in his debut on May 14 against Anaheim, pitching two scoreless innings in an 8-4 loss. The first batter Bard faced as a big leaguer was the Angels' Mike Napoli, who earlier hit a three-run homer for Anaheim.

Bard blew him away, striking him out with a 98-mph fastball.

"We knew he was a fastball hitter, but first guy I'm facing, I just went with my strengths," Bard told that night. "I kept it away and he was up there hacking."

Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield had started the game for the Sox, and Napoli could not adjust to Bard's speed.

"He kind of blew my doors off there," Napoli said. "He's got a pretty easy delivery, but he brings it up there pretty firm. I looked on the chart to see his velocity and it said 94 to 98. He got it up there and it was by me. After facing Wakefield, it was a pretty big difference. It's the first time I've seen [Bard], and he just threw fastballs. Our gun is pretty legit, so if it said 97, that's what it was. He was impressive."

Bard has given up just one earned run with the Red Sox in his 10 appearances for an 0.75 ERA. In 12 innings, he has given up eight hits with four walks and 13 strikeouts.

He has no decisions. But now he has his first big league save.

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