In the very first start of his major league career, Carlos Peguero got the chance to be a hero.
With two outs and the Seattle Mariners trailing 3-2 and Michael Saunders standing on second representing the tying run, the young slugging prospect stepped to the plate with a chance to either tie or win the game.
Facing hard-throwing Detroit Tigers closer Jose Valverde, it was clear from the start that Peguero had a simple approach – hit the ball, and hit it as hard as possible.
Was he capable of walk-off heroics? Of course, after all, it was just a few weeks earlier that Peguero had launched a ball over the batter’s eye beyond the center field wall during a Tacoma Rainiers workout at Safeco Field. He has power and more power.
But power needs contact.
No matter how hard he swung, Peguero couldn’t quite square up one of Valverde’s fastballs. Instead of homering and announcing himself to Seattle fans and giving himself a magical memory to keep forever, he struck out swinging on four pitches to end the game, leaving the Mariners with a 3-2 loss to the Tigers.
“It’s part of the game,” he said. “But I’ll keep my head up and we’ll get’em tomorrow.”
Peguero didn’t shrink from the moment. He understood what he needed to do.
“I wasn’t thinking home run, just contact,” he said.
Yes, hard contact.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge couldn’t fault the effort of the 24-year-old outfielder, who was only called up the day before when Justin Smoak was placed on the bereavement list.
“Hey, it was exciting stuff,” Wedge said. “There’s only one first game and he has it under his belt now and we’ll work from here.”
Peguero finished 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. His first at-bat resulted in a deep fly to left field. But he couldn't quite make contact after that.
“It’s part of the game, sometimes you go out there and go 0-for-4 and sometimes you’ll go out and get three hits,” Peguero said.
It was an up and down for Erik Bedard, who fell to 0-4 on the season. He pitched five innings and allowed three runs on five hits, while walking five hitters and walking two.
His command with his pitches just wasn't very sharp.
"I was a little inconsistent," he said. "It's getting there. And it will probably take time. So you just take it a step at a time."
It isn't surprising that he is fighting to find consistency. It was a long layoff. It's not an easy road back. And Bedard admitted that the road back might not lead him to what he once was.
"I don't know if it will ever be like it used to be after three surgeries," he said. "You just work hard and do the best you can and hope good things happen."
Bedard threw 95 pitches -- here's a breakdown from Baseball by Brooks on his pitches. His fastball topped out at 90.8 mph and averaged around 88. You'd like to see it higher, but its early. If it were to drop to 85-86 then there would be something wrong. But it's the location of the fastballs that is a concern. The strike percentage of both his four seam and two seam fastball are right around 50 percent. And he only got four swing and miss strikes. Compare that to David Pauley's percentages in his four innings of work.
Pauley was outstanding. He pitched four innings in relief, facing the minimum 12 batters, allowing just one hit – a one-out single to Austin Jackson in the ninth. Jackson was thrown out stealing second a few pitches later. Pauley then dispatched of Ryan Raburn to end his outing.
Pauley was ridiculously efficient throwing 32 pitches to those 12 batters, 21 of them for strikes.
“To do that is a special feat,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “He gave us every opportunity to come back. He really did a great job. We had no thoughts of him going that far, but he did everything he could do to give us a chance.”
With the exception of Jamey Wright, Pauley has been one of the Mariners’ best relievers over the last few weeks.
In his last four appearances combined, he’s allowed just one run and two hits while facing 34 hitters in a total of 18 1/3 innings.
“I feel comfortable right now,” he said. “When everything is working right, it just kind of flows together. Hopefully it continues."
- Ryan Raburn recorded his second home run of the season in the 1st inning (als: 4/9/11 vs. KC)…this is only his 2nd career home run at Safeco Field and 3rd versus Seattle (7/6/08 at SEA, 8/20/09 vs. SEA)…scoring 2 runs today, this is his 2nd multi-run game of the season (4/12/11 vs. TEX).
- Casper Wells has now hit safely in all 5 games he has started this season, batting .333 (5x15) with a double, home run, and 2 walks.
- Starting pitcher Rick Porcello has struck out 4+ batters in 3 of his 4 games this season, striking out 6 today (season-high)… this ties for 2nd in his career (also: 7/17/10 @CLE).
- Brennan Boesch has reached base safely in 10 consecutive games and 10 of 12 games on the road this season…during this 10-game stretch he is batting .353 (12x34) with 4 doubles and 6 RBI...this season he his batting .405 (17x42) on the road, compared .167 (3x18) at home.
- Adam Kennedy went 2-for-4 with a home run (last: 8/5/10 at ARI w/WAS)…it was the first home run at Safeco Field in his career…in 9 starts this season, he is batting .344 (11x32) with 4 runs, 3 doubles, 1 home run, 2 RBI and two walks with a .342 on-base percentage…he has hit safely in all 6 games at home this season, batting .348 (8x23) with 2 runs scored, 2 doubles, 1 home run and 1 RBI.
- Carlos Peguero made his first Major League start today with a start in left field and went 0-for-4.
- Jack Wilson broke his 0x18 hitting streak with a hit in the 3rd inning…this is also his first hit this season at home.
- Erik Bedard walked 5 batters, tying his career-high (6x, last: 5/10/09 @ MIN).
- Ichiro Suzuki extended his hitting streak to 4 game hitting streak...during the streak is batting .389 (7x18).
- Michael Saunders hit his third extra-base hit of the season, a double, in the bottom of the 9th inning…Saunders went 1-for-4 today (.250).