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July 4, 2008 at 5:49 PM

Green, Lopez key victory

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Some ninth inning fireworks as Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez is thrown out of the game after arguing about a leadoff at-bat in which Brandon Morrow struck him out. Rodriguez had to be restrained from going after umpire Brian Knight.
A big day for both Sean Green and Jose Lopez in a 4-1 win by the M’s over the Detroit Tigers. Seattle looked a lot more in this game, on both the mound and in the field, than it did on Thursday night. Erik Bedard held the Tigers to a run over five innings before Green came in a tossed 2 2/3 scoreless frames with his team clinging to a 2-1 lead at the time.
Morrow notched the final out of the eighth and went on to record the four-out save.
But in between his first out and the final three in the ninth, Lopez came up big. With runners at first and second, he drove a ball to the gap in right center off Kenny Rogers — only the sixth hit of the day by Seattle — to bring home a pair of huge runs. Lopez also came up big defensively in the top of the eighth, holding his ground at second in turning a 5-4-3 double-play after a leadoff single by Miguel Cabrera.
On the double-play ball by Marcus Thames, Cabrera came in hard at second. Lopez had to twist acrobatically out of the way. But he did and got the throw off in time to first base.
“I didn’t even think about it with that play,” Lopez said. “I caught the ball, heard the runner close to me and knew I had to jump. You need to make one out first on that play. Especially leading by one run. I heard the runner close and needed to jump on that one, or I’d get killed.”
Lopez appeared to surprise himself in actually pulling off the leap-and-throw.
“It was my first time,” he said. “I never practiced it. It’s just instinct. You catch the ball and try jumping and making a good throw.”
As I said, a much better game for the M’s all-around. They are 9-5 under Jim Riggleman.
Erik Bedard dressed quickly and sped out of the clubhouse without talking to reporters. Riggleman and Jamie Burke did his talking for him yet again.
Riggleman thought Berdard did a good job.
“Erik did a great job,” Riggleman said. “That’s a heckuva ballclub over there and they make you throw a lot of pitches. He was throwing so many pitches that were very close and — rightfully so — they were balls. But most teams would have taken a cut at some of those pitches, which would have kept his pitch count down. They just forced him into a very laboring five innings and they did a good job.”
I agree with him on most of that. The issue isn’t the work he did on the scoreboard. He allowed just the one run. It’s the longevity. This team didn’t trade away five guys for a pitcher who needs his bullpen to hold off the Tigers for four innings.
Burke thought Bedard was missing his spots at times rather than the Tigers merely not swinging. Has also noticed that Bedard simply gets tired as his pitch count climbs towards 100.
“Once he gets that 90 pitches, 95, you can tell he gets a little bit tired and starts cutting the ball off a bit too much,” Burke said. “You can just see it on the way the ball comes in on the plate. You can just tell he’s starting to get tired.”
Riggleman said he didn’t want Bedard going back out in the sixth with those big sluggers due up. Can’t blame him. He made the right call.
Thing is, this is now what the team has. A five or six inning pitcher who can hold teams to a run or two. In case you hadn’t noticed, that’s what Jarrod Washburn has done lately.
So, to the reader who wrote in below, asking my take on Bedard as an alternative to C.C. Sabathia, I’d say it’s a rather poor second place. Sabathia logged well over 200 innings last year. Bedard is on pace to throw about 153 innings. He hasn’t gone seven in a game since May 28. He’s a poor man’s Sabathia right now. Cheaper than Sabathia, granted, but giving far less on the mound.
Seriously, there’s a better comparison to be made between Washburn and Bedard, at least over the past month. Bedard had a devastating curveball today, I’ll give him that. But if he can only use it for five or six innings, you’d almost rather he abandon the strikeout approach and pitch to more contact. That’s my take. I think teams will take a cautious app[roach towards trading for him. But all it takes is one rogue willing to gamble, We’ll see. Remember, he’s under club control through next year. That’s attractive.



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