This one was a long time coming for Erik Bedard.
About 22 months, if youre counting.
At at the end, after 21 outs in what turned out to be a 10-1 Mariners win over the Detroit Tigers, Bedard was looking like the pitcher he was before three shoulder surgeries got sapped his arm.
The veteran left-hander allowed five hits, including an RBI double in the first inning to Miguel Cabrera in the first inning, but walked no one and kept the ball on the ground for the most part.
He did it by attacking with his fastball and finishing with his breaking pitches and change-up later. Eleven of the 21 outs he recorded were grounders and three more were strikeouts. Hed been 0-4 in his first four starts in part because opposing hitters were getting loft on the ball.
On Wednesday, that didnt happen.
“We saw him go out and take command of the game, manager Eric Wedge said. “He was very, very efficient with his pitches. They were aggressive against him, and if hes not making (good) pitches, its a different ballgame.
“Obviously, the game was a lot closer than the final score indicated.
Justin Smoak, in his second game back after the death of his father, homered in the first inning, a three-run shot that enabled Bedard to take the mound with the lead. In the fifth inning, cleanup hitter Miguel Olivo, who had three hits, rapped a sacrifice fly for a 4-1 lead.
And that was enough to get Bedard a chance to pitch the game he wanted.
He was only at 88 pitches after seven innings, but since he hadnt pitched seven innings in a start since May 5, 2009, and hadnt won a game since June 9, 2009, Wedge thought that was enough.
He might not even have gone that far except hed had an extra two days off between starts.
“We felt that was enough for him, Wedge said. “Hed worked hard, utilizing his (extra) time between starts. Hes getting more comfortable, and were seeing his arm work the way it did this spring (3-0 with a 1.13 ERA in five Cactus League starts). He was very composed, just the way he was this spring.
After Bedard was done, Jamey Wright took over with the thought that Brandon League would close out the 4-1 lead in the ninth. But that was before Seattles offense came up with big hit after big hit in a six-run ninth inning that made any need for a closer vanish.
Ichiro Suzuki singled home a run, then Chone Figgins did. With the bases loaded, Smoak singled to left to drive in a pair. Jack Cust, whod struck out in each of his first four at-bats, doubled home the innings fifth run and Adam Kennedys RBI grounder capped it.
“Its good to see the way be battled there, Smoak said after his career-high five-RBI game. “We did it against Verlander, whos a great pitcher, and then we got some hits with men on base (against the bullpen).
NOTES: Olivo has five hits in the last two games. He has 15 hits this year, and eight have come against Detroit. Olivo had one RBI on a sacrifice fly, but he could have had another. He singled with Figgins at second base, and Figgins raced around to the plate. Umpire Derryl Cousins called Figgins out on a tag by catcher Alex Avila, but replays showed that Avila never touched him Ichiro singled twice, giving him 10 hits in his last five games. He leads the American League with 11 multiple-hit games and has 702 for his career, the most in the big leagues since his arrival from Japan in 2001. Over the course of those five games, Ichiro has lifted his average from .274 to .308. Center fielder Franklin Gutierrez, on the disabled list with stomach problems, took early batting practice Wednesday and also did some defensive work in the outfield. The Mariners are trying to build up his strength and add weight after hes been out with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) since March 19. “Its still going day-by-day, Wedge said. “But at least hes still out here day after day. Closer David Aardsma doesnt seem to be quite ready for a return to Seattle from his injury rehabilitation assignment as he comes back from left hip surgery. “He continues to settle in and feels good, but he still needs more repetition, Wedge said. Aardsma will throw at least once more for Tacoma, on Friday.