Here’s how Houston manager Bo Porter described his mound visit with Erik Bedard in the seventh inning. To set the scene, Bedard had a no-hitter going, yet he had managed to give up two runs already in the game and had a man on first, Justin Smoak, via his fifth walk (to go with 10 strikeouts). There were one out, and the score was improbably tied 2-2. Bedard had thrown 109 pitches, matching his season high, which came in his last start. He had one complete game to his name in 205 previous career starts.
“The plan was to see if he could have a quick inning,’’ Porter said. “He was kind of at the end of the rope. Even when I went out there, I went out there with kind of a chuckle….He goes, ‘I’m done.’ ‘Are you sure?’‘Yes, I’m sure.’ At that point, I took the ball.”
Said Bedard, “I’ve had three shoulder surgeries, and I’m not going over 110 (pitches). I’d rather pitch a couple more years than face another batter.”
It was a crazy game all the way around. The Mariners struck out 15 times and managed just one hit, yet they won. Bedard gave up no hits, yet he was the losing pitcher. The only other team to score four runs on one or fewer hits since 1916 was the White Sox on July 1, 1990, against the Yankees. The White Sox did so in a no-hitter by Andy Hawkins, and were aided by errors. The Astros didn’t make any errors tonight, but two of Seattle’s runs off Bedard were unearned by virtue of two passed balls. The last time a team scored four runs on just one hit, without benefit of an error, was on April 30, 1914, when the White Sox had four runs on one hit but lost 5-4 to the Tigers. It was the third time in Seattle history they won a game with one hit. And Bedard became just the sixth pitcher, dating back to 1916, to give up no hits over at least six innings and allow two or more runs. It hadn’t been done since ex-Mariner Matt Young, then with Boston, in 1992.
“It’s the oddest win I’ve ever been a part of,’’ said Michael Saunders, whose fingerprints were all over the Mariners’ fifth straight triumph.
“What a crazy game,’’ said Tom Wilhelmsen, who finished it off – with a major assist from Saunders – for his 21st save.
“A very unique set of circumstances,’’ marveled manager Eric Wedge.
Saunders was the man of the hour. With two on via walks in the seventh, he drove one to deep center — a home run in any other park, as Wedge said — off reliever Jose Cisnero, who had replaced Bedard, to drive in the two decisive runs with the Mariners’ lone hit of the game.
“Zunino had a great at-bat ahead of me and saw a lot of pitches,” Saunders said. “I got to kind of see what his ball did, watching how he pitched to Ackley I knew that he liked his fastball and throws hard. I took a couple breaking balls for balls and just kind of sat dead-red heater and put a good swing on it.
“That was the longest double I’ve ever had. I definitely put a good swing on it. I guess if the hill isn’t out there, maybe he runs it down. Or if the hill isn’t out there, maybe it’s a home run. I don’t know. But it fell, we won and that’s all that matters.”
Then, in the ninth, Justin Maxwell led off with a drive to the gap off Wilhelmsen on which Saunders made a sensational running catch.
“That’s the play of the day,’’ Wilhelmsen said. “Maybe his double as well. He closed down on that sucker so fast. That ball was smoked. I was like ‘Holy Cow.’ He was full extension, incredible catch. Huge.”
Added Wilhelmsen, “Those are games that winning ball clubs win. And we’re on our way.”