How impressive was 23-year-old Daniel Bard in his Triple-A debut?
I thought Duke McGuire, a long-time broadcaster for the Buffalo Bisons put it perfectly after the PawSox season-opening 6-4 win when he said, “If Boston doesn’t have room on its pitching staff for that guy the Red Sox are going to win about 120 games.”
There were several things to be excited about on Opening Day for the Pawsox, including 2-hit performances by Paul McAnulty, Dusty Brown and Alex Ochoa, and the 5 strong innings tossed by winning pitcher Enrique Gonzalez.
But make no mistake — Bard was the story. After making 9 spring training appearances for Boston without allowing a run, the former first round draft pick tossed 2 perfect innings and struck out the last 4 batters he faced to earn a save in a dazzling Pawtucket debut.
Bard’s fastball was consistently timed in the mid-90’s and peaked at 98. He threw 18 of 26 pitches for strikes and ended the game by freezing Jose Coronado with a knee-buckling slider.
It was a brilliant performance by the young righty on a day that began with sad news. Bard was an aquaintance of Nick Adenhart, the young Los Angeles Angels pitcher who died in a car accident in the early hours on Thursday morning. As a student at the University of North Carolina, Bard was one of Adenhart’s hosts when he came to Chapel Hill on a recruiting visit.
Bard entered this season as the fourth-ranked prospect and third-ranked pitcher according to Baseball America. On Friday night, the top-ranked pitching prospect in the organization — Michael Bowden — makes his first start of 2009. Pre-game coverage starts at 5:50 on the PawSox radio network with the first pitch scheduled for 6:05.
My broadcast partner Steve Hyder got off to a good start in this year’s edition of “Stump Steve.” I quiz him in a variety of ways in the 7th inning of every broadcast and began the year with a contest we call “Two out of Three Ain’t Bad” (in honor of PawSox Manager Ron Johnson — a dead-ringer for the rock star Meatloaf who had a big hit by that name).
Here’s how that version of “Stump Steve” works. I give my partner three fairly-challenging questions, and if he gets at least two right he wins.
Here were the questions on Opening Day:
1. What former Red Sox player hit the first pitch of the 1986 major league season out of the park for a home run?
2. Three players in history have hit 3 home runs on opening day. Name one of the three.
3. What Hall of Fame pitcher made the most opening day starts — 16 for 3 different teams?
The correct answers are:
1. Dwight Evans off of Jack Morris (Steve got it right)
2. Dmitri Young, Tuffy Rhodes, and George Bell (Steve incorrectly guessed Willie Mays)
3. Tom Seaver (Steve nailed that one too).
We’ll see if I can stump him in Game 2.
The 3:05 start on Opening Day gave us plenty of time to enjoy an epic post-game feast at Buffalo’s famed Anchor Bar – the place that claims to have invented the Buffalo-style chicken wing. Steve and I were joined by PawSox VP of Public Relations Bill Wanless, Director of Security Rick Medeiros, and Buffalo broadcaster Joel Godett.
If you listen to the game on Friday night, you might even smell the grease through your radio. E-mail me if we sound 10 pounds heavier. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Greetings from Buffalo on Opening Day 2009 for the Pawtucket Red Sox and welcome to the first entry on my new blog “Heard it from Hoard.”
I’m PawSox broadcaster Dan Hoard and my plan is give you an insider’s look at the team throughout the 2009 season. Feel free to bookmark this and check out the blog on a regular basis (abundant hits will make me look good).
I’m writing this morning from the team hotel in Buffalo on what looks like a surprisingly nice day for baseball. I grew up about 90 miles south of here in Jamestown, NY and did not have high hopes for this season-opening 4-game series against the Bisons. In fact, I set the over/under at being able to get in 2 out of the 4 games while spending the rest of my time wolfing down chicken wings.
Well, I’m happy to say I was wrong. The forecast for opening day is 46 degrees and partly sunny, and there’s no rain (or snow) expected for the next 4 days. I couldn’t be happier unless someone discovered the cure to male-pattern baldness.
Getting in all 4 games would be a minor miracle. The last time the PawSox opened the season in Buffalo was 2003. The Bisons won the first game 10-8 on a 29 degree day with sleet falling. Buffalo’s next 6 home games that year were postponed.
The PawSox will send newcomer Enrique Gonzalez to the mound. He’s pitched in the majors for Arizona and San Diego and appeared in the World Baseball Classic this year for Venezuela. He’ll be opposed by one of the top prospects in the NY Mets organization — 22-year-old lefty Jon Niese.
The team traveled to Buffalo last night after enjoying the annual PawSox Welcome Home Luncheon, sponsored by the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce. We took a Jet Blue flight to Buffalo which worked out nicely since there are little TV screens on the back of every seat and it allowed the players and coaches to watch the Red Sox/Rays game. Every few minutes you would hear someone say “this guy is terrible” after observing one of the balls or stikes called by the home plate umpire.
This will be my 4th year behind the mic on the PawSox radio network and at the risk of jinxing the team, Pawtucket is 3-0 on opening day during my tenure. All 3 games have featured something special.
2006 — the PawSox scored the winning run in the bottom of the 9th.
2007 — Brandon Moss hit a grand slam in his first Triple-A at-bat.
2008 — former Cy Young award winning Bartolo Colon got the start for Pawtucket and combined with 3 relievers on a 1-hit shutout.
I can’t wait to see what happens today.
I hope you’ll join Steve Hyder and me for the call. Pregame coverage begins at 2:50, with the first pitch set for 3:05.
I’d love to hear from you. The address is email@example.com.