After getting a win in relief Monday night against the Twins, Daniel Bard delivered the strongest start of his major league career in a 10-3 win over the White Sox last night.
Bard allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits over a career-high seven innings while striking out six and walking just one. After surrendering a fifth inning solo homer to Paul Konerko, he responded by retiring 13 of the final 14 batters he faced. Bard’s command and control won’t be this precise every time out, as we have already seen this season, but an outing like this functions as a reminder that he has a chance to be much more valuable as a starting pitcher than a reliever.
As for the Red Sox, they have now won five in a row to move to 9-10 on the season. Funny what some games against some lesser competition will do. They’ll go for their sixth straight this evening when Jon Lester takes on the undefeated Jake Peavy.
Your Friday box scores:
Athletics 5, Orioles 2
Cubs 5, Phillies 1
Astros 6, Reds 4
Angels 2, Indians 3
Diamondbacks 5, Marlins 0
Tigers 6, Yankees 7
Pirates 1, Braves 6
Mariners 9, Blue Jays 5 (10 innings)
Brewers 1, Cardinals 13
Rays 8, Rangers 4
Mets 9, Rockies 18
Nationals 2, Dodgers 3
Royals 7, Twins 6
Padres 5, Giants 3
The Yankees and Astros are set for Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, and neither team will hold back as they seek a World Series berth. The Astros are prepared to back starter Charlie Morton with any able-bodied pitcher in their ranks — including Justin Verlander, though A.J. Hinch said it would be a “dream scenario” to get anything more from his ace — while the Yankees are prepared to utilize all but a few of their arms. One pitcher you won’t see? Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who last took the hill for the Yankees during their Game 5 shutout on Wednesday.
Tanaka expended 103 pitches over seven scoreless innings in his last start, fending off the Astros with three hits, a walk and eight strikeouts. He hasn’t pitched on fewer than three days of rest all year, and even with a do-or-die scenario facing the Yankees on Saturday night, manager Joe Girardi doesn’t want to compromise his starter’s ability to stay rested and ready for the World Series.
Girardi will also play it safe with fellow right-hander Sonny Gray, who dominated in a five-inning performance in Game 4. All other pitchers should be available and ready to go, though the club is hoping for a lengthy outing from veteran starter CC Sabathia. Sabathia is no stranger to the postseason: over eight separate playoff runs, he touts one championship title and a collective 4.24 ERA in 123 innings. He held the Astros scoreless in his Game 3 start, blanking them over six innings on three hits, four walks and five strikeouts for an eventual 8-1 win.
Even without Tanaka or Gray likely to take the mound for Game 7, the Yankees will enter the series finale with history on their side. Per MLB.com, they have a 4-3 road record in Game 7s and are 6-7 in all 13 Game 7 finales to date. The Astros, on the other hand, dropped their first and only Game 7 clincher back in 2004, when the Cardinals capped the NLCS with a 5-2 win in St. Louis. The teams are scheduled to face off for the first-ever Game 7 at Minute Maid Park on Saturday at 8:00 PM ET.