By Paul Sporer
Two hits was the order of the day. That’s all Erik Bedard gave up in seven innings of work, but unfortunately that’s also all the offense could muster against Jeff Samardzija and Carlos Marmol in a 2-0 loss on Monday night. Bedard gave up one of the runs yielding a pair of walks along with his two hits while striking out 11 which matches a season-high set in St. Louis back on May 3rd.
Bedard couldn’t shake his streak of starts with 2 or more walks, stretching it to 11, but he looked good for a second straight outing. The first was in Colorado where he allowed two runs, one earned, which is like throwing a 15-inning shutout the way Coors Field has played this year. The Cubs are far from a quality offense with just a few worthwhile hitters in their nine. In fact, two of the best did most of the damage with Alfonso Soriano going 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and both RBIs. He plated Starlin Castro both times as he went 1-for-3 with a walk. Anthony Rizzo, the other strong hitter they have (and the only lefty in the lineup for the night), struck out three times in an 0-for-4 night.
Nevertheless, it is nice to see Bedard string a pair of quality outings together after struggling to find any consistency throughout June and into early July regardless of the opponent. In fact, this was his best start of the year going by Game Score with a 78 topping his previous high of 67, also against the Cubs, back on May 27th. It didn’t look like it was going to be a great night for Bedard at the outset. He started off with a 19-pitch inning, walking the first batter and throwing more balls than strikes (11 B, 8 S), but he battled back from a 3-0 count to Soriano and struck him out to get out of the inning with nothing more than the Reed Johnson leadoff walk on his ledger.
His curveball was strong pretty much all evening (as it usually is, being his best pitch and all) generating six of his 11 strikeouts and inducing a swing-and-miss a quarter of the time (8 of 33) in all. He simply dominated Joe Mather with it in this fifth inning at-bat getting two called strikes and a swinging third on the first, fourth and fifth pitches of the at-bat. The swing-and-miss so bad that you spin around which blends into the run away back into the dugout by Mather is classic, too.
Here is a look at the other curveball strikeouts of the night including Mather two other times. In order, he embarrasses Soriano, Mather, Rizzo, Samardzija and Mather again. Per usual, he was burying the curve down in the zone and the opposition had no answer for it. Four of the five ended an inning which is just a great way to walk off the mound.
And finally, here is a closer look at the last pitch of that sequence above, a seventh inning strikeout of Mather which ended up being Bedard’s final pitch of the night. It may have also been his filthiest.
It is a safe bet that Mr. Mather won’t be hitting the Facebook Share button on this particular post. Sorry, Joe.
Bedard’s next two starts will be on the road against division foes in Houston and in Cincinnati assuming things stay on their current course. He hasn’t faced either club this season.