ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Daniel Bard has a new perspective after more than seven years away from the major leagues, and a win after one outing for the Colorado Rockies.
The hard-throwing Bard, whose control troubles ran him out of baseball, pitched 1 1-3 scoreless innings in relief while twice getting out of jams as the Rockies beat the Texas Rangers 3-2 on Saturday.
“He said three words — that was fun,” Colorado manager Bud Black said.
Bard’s last big league appearance had been for Boston on April 27, 2013, 11 months after his last win.
“It’s been a long wait. It feels good,” the 35-year-old Bard said. “Just trying to soak it in and enjoy every moment.
Bard took over for starter Jon Gray with two on and two outs in the fifth. The right-hander, with his fastball in the upper 90s mph, worked around two more runners in the sixth, getting Willie Calhoun on an inning-ending flyout to cap an 11-pitch at-bat.
Bard threw 20 of his 25 pitches for strikes.
“The stuff is there. ... What a great story,” Black said.
Texas manager Chris Woodward played with Bard on the 2009 Red Sox.
“That’s why we couldn’t get the big hit, there was a higher power involved,” Woodward said. “It is pretty cool to see that. Obviously, I’m a baseball fan, so I’m a fan of stories like that. I didn’t want to see him get his first win against us.”
Wade Davis, back in the closer role for the Rockies after some struggles last season, worked the ninth against the top of the Rangers lineup for his first save since July 25, 2019 — exactly a year earlier — though he gave up a run when slugger Joey Gallo drove in a run with a dribbler off the end of the bat.
Colorado went ahead to stay with two runs in the fourth off Mike Minor (0-1), helped by two fielder’s choice plays and two errors. David Dahl, the leadoff hitter who had all three Rockies hits in the season-opening 1-0 loss, added an RBI single in the seventh.
A first-round pick by the Red Sox in 2006, Bard made his big league debut three years later. He developed control issues in 2012 and trouble only got worse when he was unable to consistently find the plate with any of his pitches. In his last appearance, he threw only one strike in his nine pitches.
After several unsuccessful comeback attempts through 2017, Bard spent last year as a player mentor and mental skills coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He decided to try one more time and made the Rockies roster this summer.
“These games are important, but also at the end of the day you’re still playing a game,” Bard said. “I think the guys that are able to take that mindset into each and every day despite the pressure ... are the ones that have a lot of success. It gook me a while to fully grasp that.”
Bard’s first pitch was a strike before Elvis Andrus flied out to end the fifth.
Gray struck out three and walked three while allowing one run in 4 2-3 innings. Minor struck out six in five innings, while giving up two runs (one earned), and had one of the two errors that led to Colorado runs.
After winning their first game played under the closed retractable roof in the new $1.2 billion Globe Life Field, the Rangers missed a chance to start a season 2-0 for the first time since 2011, when they went to the second consecutive World Series. The Rangers left 12 runners on base, including multiple runners in the fifth through eighth innings.
“We had a golden opportunity with a lot of our best hitters. That was something that kind of defined the game,” Woodward said.
HE WAS ROBBED
Shin-Soo Choo led off the Rangers first with an opposite field drive, but left fielder Garrett Hampson made a leaping catch, extending his glove above the eight-foot wall to take a homer away from Choo, who drove in a run with a single in the fifth.
Two-time AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber makes his first MLB start in nearly 15 months when he makes his Rangers debut in the series finale. His right forearm was broken by a comeback liner in his last start for Cleveland on May 1, 2019. LHP Kyle Freeland, who was 3-11 last season, pitches for Colorado.