Astros starting pitcher Erik Bedard was pulled from tonight’s game after pitching 6 & 1/3 no-hit innings. It was the right move.
Bedard was perfect through the first four innings before walking the first batter in the fifth. The sixth inning proved to be the turning point, thanks to a questionable call that kept the inning going. Bedard had issued his second walk of the game and had a runner on first with one out. The runner was moving on a 3-2 pitch that looked like strike three. Jason Castro threw to second base in plenty of time to get the runner on what looked like an inning ending strike out and caught stealing double-play. Unfortunately for Bedard and the Astros, the pitch was called a ball.
The Mariners would end up scoring two runs in the inning without getting a hit. A pair of passed balls by Castro sandwiched around a sacrifice fly contributed to the damage, tying the game at 2-2. Bedard would get the first out in the seventh inning before issuing his fifth walk of the game and giving way to Jose Cisnero out of the bullpen.
Although Bedard hadn’t given up a hit, he was completely out of gas. I thought Bo Porter left his veteran lefty in the game as long as he possibly could. Bedard had just walked Justin Smoak on four straight pitches, one of which flew all the way to the backstop. Bringing in Cisnero was the Astros best chance to complete the no-hitter, in my opinion.
Cisnero struck out pinch-hitter Dustin Ackley for the second out of the inning before walking Mike Zunino. Michael Saunders followed with a 2-run double onto Tal’s Hill that landed just out of the reach of Brandon Barnes. The Mariners’ only hit of the ballgame would end up being the difference and saddle Bedard with one of the toughest losses of all time.
Bedard watched from the dugout in disbelief as he pondered what might have been. The 34-year old lefty dropped to 3-7 on the year, striking out a season high of ten batters in the process. Bedard threw 109 pitches in the game, matching his highest total of the year.
One night after Brandon Barnes hit for the cycle in a losing effort, it looked like Bedard might accomplish a rare feat of his own. But, this time, it wasn’t meant to be.
UPDATE: Porter told reporters after the game that Bedard said “I’m done” during his seventh inning visit to mound. (Hat-tip to Cliff Saunders SportsTalk 790)