"Today was a step backward in a few ways," said Bard, who threw 58 of 97 pitches for strikes. "Fastball command was not great all day, but it forced me to use the changeup and use the breaking ball. That's what kept me in the game and kept them off-balance just enough. It's one of those days where you say, with the fastball, 'I'm not going to locate it. I just need to be in the zone with it and throw enough offspeed stuff where it doesn't have to be perfect.' That's kind of what I was able to do. It's tough facing nine lefties. You have to find a way to grind and keep them swinging."
Typically a high strikeout guy, Bard's totaled just four Ks in his last three outings, a combined 18 1/3 innings. Against the Royals and A's, Bard struck out just one batter per game in a pair of losses.
"No, you've got to have command to strike guys out consistently," Bard said. "You can get away with some not-well-located pitches and a guy just guesses wrong and you get strikeouts, but to consistently do it, good command's got to be there. Once you get to two strikes, you've got to execute pitches. Mine have been OK, good enough maybe to get weak contact, but not good enough to get a swing-and-miss. I think when the breaking ball gets to where I'm capable of throwing it, you'll see those numbers get back to normal."
The third inning was particularly perilous, when Bard walked in the only run he allowed and gave three free passes in the inning.
"I felt really good in the first two, just pounding the zone, executing pitches," Bard said. "The third inning wasn't pretty by any means. It's just one of those things where I had a couple long sits between innings and you kind of lose the feel of the release point on the fastball. It's happened to me before, and it'll probably happen again. It's just a matter of grinding through it and finding something you could throw for a strike. For me, it was the offspeed that got me back into some good counts."