Encouraging signs from Bedard
August, 5, 2011
By Darren Hartwell | ESPNBoston.com
Jim Rogash/Getty ImagesBOSTON -- It wasn’t a gem, but it was certainly better than five earned runs through 1 1/3 innings.
That was Erik Bedard's pitching line in his last outing with the Seattle Mariners, an 8-0 loss to Tampa Bay in his first appearance in over a month after he went on the DL in late June with a sprained left knee.
Bedard improved markedly on that performance Thursday night in front of an overflowing crowd of 38,477 at Fenway Park.
Limited by a pitch count, the newly acquired left-hander threw 70 pitches through five innings and allowed three earned runs on seven hits with five strikeouts. He left the game with the score knotted at 3, but the Sox bullpen allowed three runs in the last four innings and Boston lost, 7-3.
“I thought he professionally pitched a game like we’ve seen,” said manager Terry Francona after the game. “Cuts his fastball, good feel for his breaking ball, nice change-up, holds runners, throws a bunch of strikes, and I think that will all continue to improve as he gets some innings under his belt.”
“It’s hard after a loss to sit here and say we were excited, but I thought he really pitched pretty well,” added Francona.
Bedard got off to a strong start when he struck out lead-off hitter Ezequiel Carrera on a 3-2 two-seam fastball. He needed only six more pitches to retire the next two batters for a 1-2-3 first frame.
Bedard was victimized by a bit of bad luck and poor fielding in the second inning, as the Indians managed to drive in two runs on two balls that didn’t leave the infield.
After a Carlos Santana single, Josh Reddick’s throwing error on Kosuke Fukodome’s single put runners on second and third with one out for Matt LaPorta, who hit a broken-bat grounder to the right side of the infield. Adrian Gonzalez ranged to his right to field the ball, but a lapse of communication between Bedard and Dustin Pedroia left first base uncovered. The run scored, and the Sox failed to record an out.
The Indians tacked on another run one batter later, when Fukodome scored from third on an Austin Kearns ground-out.
“He threw the ball great,” said Pedroia of Bedard. “We really didn’t help him out that one inning defensively, but we all thought he threw the ball well.”
Bedard seemed to have good command of his pitches, allowing no walks while striking out five. With two runners on and two outs in the third inning, he rang up Fukudome on a 93-mph fastball and retired the next six hitters he faced after that.
After the game, Bedard emphasized the importance of controlling his pitches in only his second start off the disabled list.
“I threw strikes, that’s the basic thing,” he said. “Coming back and trying to get my pitch count up, that’s the most important thing.”
Bedard’s next start is likely to come on the road, as the Sox travel to Minnesota on Monday for a three-game series with the Twins after their weekend showdown with New York. The Sox starter is looking forward to throwing more pitches in his next outing as he builds his way back to a full recovery.
“You always look forward to the next one. Pitch count’s going to be up a little more, and it’s going to be just a normal start, so it’ll be good,” says Bedard.