A few hours before the game, Mariners manager Eric Wedge talked with optimism about Erik Bedard and the progress he was making this season.
Sure Bedard was winless and his velocity was down and he hadn’t pitched longer than five innings, but Wedge wasn’t about to give up hope that the oft-injured left-hander could still be the pitcher he saw in spring training.
“He’s had a couple extra days off, had some good work days and hopefully he comes out here and pitching like we’ve seen him capable of pitching,” Wedge said pregame.
Wedge’s faith was rewarded a few hours later as Bedard had his best outing in two years, pitching seven innings, allowing one run on five hits with three strikeouts and no walks, and leading the Mariners to a 10-1 win over the Detroit Tigers.
“I think you have to start with Bedard,” Wedge said postgame. “What we talked about before the game, you saw him go out and do it. He commanded the ball game. He was aggressive and very efficient, very efficient when you look at his pitch count.”
Indeed, Bedard needed only 88 pitches – 60 of them strikes - to get through seven innings and get his first win since June 7, 2009.
“They were swinging tonight, so I economized my pitches and got deep into the game,” Bedard said.
The seven innings of work are the most Bedard has thrown this season in a start, and the most in a start since May 5, 2009 when he also pitched seven innings against the Texas Rangers.
Wedge didn’t try and steal another inning out of him.
“We felt like that was enough for him today just for the fact that it was two more innings than what we’ve seen him throw this year,” Wedge said.
Yet even with all that he has gone through and overcome over the past three seasons, he wasn’t overly sentimental about the win.
“It means more to the team,” he said. “That’s what you’re trying to accomplish, getting wins for the team. I’m happier for that.”
It was the Mariners’ sixth win in their last 10 games. And it was the second straight win where Seattle reached double figures in hits. The Mariners banged out 11 hits, but it was Justin Smoak’s three-run homer in the first inning that proved to be the biggest.
The inning had all the signs of a disaster. With runners on first and second, Miguel Olivo singled to left. Chone Figgins appeared to score from second sliding around the tag of Alex Avila at home. However, home plate umpire Derryl Cousins called Figgins out, who didn’t even know it.
“When I went walking by Smoak I was waiting for him to give me a high five,” Figgins said. “And I’m like, ‘why didn’t you give me a high five?’ And he said, ‘he called you out.’”
Both Figgins and Wedge protested the call to no avail.
But Smoak made them soon forget it.
He ripped 1-0 fastball off of Tigers starter Justin Verlander deep to left-center for a three run homer – his second in as many days, and his third in three straight games.
“I was just looking for a fastball to hit,” Smoak said. “He’s got overpowering stuff and throws really hard, so you try not to be late on a heater and I just happened to get one out over the plate.”
It was the first time he’d ever faced Verlander.
“He’s got good stuff,” Smoak said. “People talk about him for a reason. He’s a good pitcher and you’ve got to go up there every time and just try to battle against him.”
Smoak has a nine game hitting streak.
You know who else is hitting? Miguel Olivo. He had five hits since moving to clean-up. He's now hitting over .200 at .217
Jack Cust got a double late after striking out four times. So that raises his batting average to .177 and his slugging percentage .281