ITM called it months ago, Daniel Bard is the real deal, and tonight Red Sox fans got a good glimpse of their future. With CincoOcho off limits after two stressful saves against the Yanks, Tito turned to the 23 year old flame thrower to close out a marathon of a game in Philadelphia. A walk, a hit batter, and three nasty strike outs later, it was over. The Red Sox win. (ITM note, all third strikes were via change ups after first blowing hitters away with 99 mph gas).
We all know Papelbon is looking for a record-breaking deal to keep him closing games for the Sox after 2011. Given the Boston's reluctance to provide long term deals for any pitcher, especially for ones they may expect to have shoulder issues in the future, you may have just watched your future closer in action tonight Is it VERY early in Bard's career, yes. Is just one chance to close down a game, yes. Am I sincerely over-tired and probably suffering from irrational man love for this guy.....probably. But one thing is for sure, the guy is a stud, has electric stuff, and could serve as a major player for this organization in the future in a number of ways.
And let's not forget about Lester. It feels like three days ago, but buried somewhere in tonight's 13 inning 5-2 win was Jon Lester's gem of a start. 7 innings, 2 hits, 1 earned run, and 11 K's, away from Fenway and against a good lineup....GEM. Lester is truly molding into his expected "vice ace" status. To put his piss poor start of the season int0 perspective, we all know how well he's pitched of late, but his ERA still stands at 4.76. One thing is for sure, Lester has made opponents look silly in the batters box. His K's per 9 innings has gone from 6.5 in 2008, to among the league leaders at 10.29 in 2009.
The recent, multiple shut down performances of Josh Beckett and Jon Lester serves as a reminder to all of us all how stupid the thought of a potential 6 man rotation really is. Why would you want to take starts away from Beckett or Lester in favor or a 5th or 6th starter. When these guys are throwing this well, it's going to be very hard for Boston to go into an extended losing streak or funk.
The Red Sox are rounding into form, and you have to be happy with what you've seen of late. I mean Christ, even Julio Lugo was a value-added contributor tonight. Good stuff.