Coming into this series, with Felix going in the opener, Pineda on the bump tomorrow, and Bedard vs. Justin Verlander today, I had my money on a series win… just not like this. Erik Bedard had looked shaky at best in his first four starts, and Justin Verlander continues to be one of the better right-handed arms in the game. I knew Felix and Pineda gave us good odds, but a one-sided loss tonight wouldn’t have surprised or even upset me all that much.
Sometimes baseball can be predictable, and that makes coping with certain types of losses that much easier. Fortunately, though, I don’t need to talk any more about coping with losses tonight, because we didn’t lose. We totally won.
It was ominous at the beginning, though. After getting a couple of runners on in the first, and then having home plate umpire Derryl Cousins steal a run away from us, this game seemed right on track to be terrible. It was not a challenge to conjure up images of our offense missing an early opportunity, and then looking hopeless for the rest of the night. It isn’t like we haven’t seen it before. Sometimes baseball smiles on us, though, and that’s exactly what happened when Justin Smoak came to the plate, and with one swing erased all of the frustration from that atrocity of a call.
From then on out, it was basically smooth sailing. Erik Bedard had a bit of a hiccup in the first inning, but was excellent from there on out, and an offensive explosion by the Mariners in the ninth finally put it out of reach.
Anyway, things of interest:
- This had to be one of the least Erik Bedard like starts of Erik Bedard’s career. Throughout his time in the league, even when fully healthy and at his best, he has been known as a guy who works deep counts, throws a lot of pitches, and walks some guys. Tonight, he threw 68% strikes, didn’t walk a batter, and needed only 88 pitches to get through his 7 innings. He also induced 11 groundballs, and threw 17 out of 25 first pitch strikes.Aside from lacking a little bit in missed bats and strikeouts, this was an extremely encouraging outing all around. While his excellent curve ball command was key, seeing his fastball consistently back in the 92-93 MPH range was also uplifting. It’s yet to be seen if this version of him will be able to stick around, but Erik Bedard being good could provide a huge boost to this team’s watchability.
- *Please know that I wrote this game note before his opposite field double in the ninth, but that only changes things so much.* On a much less encouraging note, Jack Cust went 1-for-5 with 4 K’s, all of them coming against RHP. Now there’s no denying that facing Justin Verlander when you’re already struggling is a tough task, and I’m not completely comfortable pronouncing him “done” just yet, but with a .518 OPS through 25 games, his rope has got to be shortening rapidly.
- However, even with Jack Cust’s dismal performance, tonight’s game brought more signs of life from this offense. Justin Smoak continued to look really good, with a walk, an opposite field three-run home run off of Justin Verlander, and 5 RBI, and Miguel Olivo checked in with three more hits, finally pushing that average over the .200 mark!
- Chone Figgins also had two hits, so yay regression.
Michael Pineda takes the mound tomorrow as we go for our first sweep of the season, so tune in folks!