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May 28, 2008 at 10:52 PM

What might have been

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This is the Erik Bedard fans expected to see when that five-for-one trade with Baltimore went down. Bedard threw seven innings of two-hit, shutout ball, striking out eight batters. Brandon Morrow used some 98 mph heat to work through the eighth. J.J. Putz walked Manny Ramirez and Sean Casey in the ninth, but got Coco Crisp on a groundout (pictured above) to notch the save in a 1-0 win by the Mariners.
Fans tonight saw the pitching this team was supposed to have. They’ve seen it the last four days, really. And oh how much it must hurt. I mean, where was this stuff three weeks ago? This team is still 14 games under .500 and will soon be 11 1/2 back of Los Angeles — getting wiped out tonight. But they waited a long time to put this mound stuff back on display. Too long.
“The starting pitching has really picked it up,” Mariners manager John McLaren said afterwards. “And it’s been huge for us.”
One for M’s fans to savor, at least for 48 hours. They just took a series from a winning team, and that doesn’t happen often. But someone get these guys a calendar. It’s May 28. They are finally getting well-pitched games, not much offense but at least timely hitting, and some defense. Now, all they need to do is make a record comeback and all is forgiven.
Bedard looked comfortable all night. Even after that 25-pitch first inning.
“It’s real hard, them and the Yankees, they take a lot of pitches,” Bedard said. “You’ve got to pound the strike zone early.”
That he did. He averaged only 14 pitches per inning the rest of the way, finding that elusive rhythm.
“As a pitcher, you always try to get the most rhythm you can,” Bedard said. “Inning by inning, you try to get the most you can.”
Bedard’s personal catcher, Jamie Burke, told the pitcher beforehand that he should be mixing his change-up in more often. Bedard did that early and it threw the Red Sox off.
“I told him we have to start throwing that pitch a little more and we’ve got to get it going,” Burke said. “You can’t go out there with two or three pitches. You’ve got to have that other pitch. And that’s a great pitch.”
Bedard made a lot of great pitches tonight. He finally did get it going. This team has turned it up a notch since embarrassing itself on the road.
But the season doesn’t start in June. If this was the final week of spring training, these M’s would be poised and ready to live up to their hype as the season neared. But it’s May 28. All they can do now is hope the newer hype about how bad they’ve really been so far enables them to catch teams off guard. To sneak up on opponents the way they did in 2007. To make this disaster of a 2008 season a little more palatable in the won-lost column. And to learn something going forward. Maybe give the folks running the show a little better idea of what needs to be fixed. Their timing would be the first thing on the repair list.
Judging by how they’ve played these past four days, the timing truly stinks.

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