July 30, 2011 in Sports

Mariners resume losing ways behind Bedard’s short outing

From News Services
 
Associated Press photo

Tampa Bay Rays’ Johnny Damon hits a two-run RBI single against Seattle Mariners starter Erik Bedard during the second inning.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

SEATTLE – If Friday night was a showcase for Erik Bedard’s trade value, the scouts at Safeco Field didn’t have much time to make their evaluations.

In his first start since June 27 because of a sprained knee, Bedard lasted only 1 1/3 innings in a game that fell apart early on the Seattle Mariners and became an 8-0 loss.

Bedard, whose two-inning simulated game last week in Boston was deemed enough before he was activated off the disabled list, struggled with his command and paid the price.

He allowed a walk and a hit in a scoreless first inning, but got only one more out before manager Eric Wedge pulled him.

Former Mariner Casey Kotchman led off the second inning with a single, his first of three hits in the game, before Bedard struck out Kelly Shoppach.

Bedard walked the next three – Matt Joyce, Sean Rodriguez and Desmond Jennings – to force home a run before Johnny Damon hit a two-run single to center field.

That made it a 3-0 Rays lead and, with Bedard at 57 pitches and only 28 of them strikes, Wedge pulled him.

 “In that inning, he was up to 33, 34, 35 pitches,” Wedge said. “Couple that with the first, he was right around the 60-pitch limit. That was enough, especially for someone who hadn’t pitched in a while.

“He was strong and his stuff was good, just erratic. I don’t think it was anything mechanical. He was probably a little bit strong because he had some time off.”

Bedard’s name has been mentioned more than any other Mariner in trade speculation as Sunday’s 1 p.m. non-tender trade deadline nears.

Scouts on Friday saw a pitcher with command issues – no surprise considering the DL time and only one tuneup against hitters – but also a 94 mph fastball and good movement on his breaking pitches.

“He had good stuff,” Wedge said. “He had a live fastball and his breaking ball was pretty good, but he was working behind (in the count). I felt like he threw a few too many breaking balls. With the fastball he had, I’d like to see him challenge them a little more. He really had to work hard.”

Left-hander Aaron Laffey relieved Bedard and immediately contributed to the Rays’ rally. With runners on first and second, he made a pickoff move to first base – with first baseman Adam Kennedy standing about 15 feet from the bag. Laffey lobbed the ball to Kennedy and immediately was called for a balk.

Evan Longoria grounded out to push home a run, making the score 4-0, before Ben Zobrist belted a 2-1 pitch over the right-field fence for a three-run home run. Laffey walked B.J. Upton, then gave up an RBI double to Kotchman.

“Aaron really struggled,” Wedge said. “It looked like he got caught up in it.”

Right-hander Jamey Wright rescued the Mariners’ bullpen with three near-perfect innings, allowing one hit but erasing that runner with a double play, and Chris Ray and Josh Lueke worked the final three innings.

With an 8-0 lead, Rays starter Jeff Niemann had the comfort to paint like he was LeRoy Nieman.

Dustin Ackley’s two-out single in the first inning ended any thought of a no-hitter. Without that, the suspense would have carried into the seventh, when the Mariners got their next hit on Adam Kennedy’s one-out single.

Chone Figgins also singled with two outs in the seventh before Marlins manager Joe Maddon turned to his bullpen. Niemann finished with a career-high 11 strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings.

“A couple of our guys had some decent passes at the ball, but overall we didn’t get anything going,” Wedge said.

Among them were Ichiro Suzuki, 0 for 4 to drop his average to .270, and Miguel Olivo, also 0 for 4 with strikeouts in all three at-bats against Niemann.

J.P. Howell and Brandon Gomes finished off Niemann’s work, returning the final seven hitters to leave the Mariners with their ninth shutout loss this season.

Notes

The Mariners designated Jack Cust for assignment, announcing the move before Friday night’s game. Cust hit .213 with 15 doubles, one triple, three home runs and 23 RBIs in 67 games for the Mariners, who signed the 10-year veteran to a one-year deal for $2.5 million during the offseason. … The Mariners traded minor league outfielder Ryan Langerhans to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for cash considerations. Langerhans will report to Arizona’s Triple-A affiliate in Reno.

• Boxscore /C6

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