|Red Sox finally give Erik Bedard run support, and he finally wins||09.03.11 at 9:37 pm ET|
In Erik Bedard‘s first five starts since coming to Boston, the Red Sox didn’t exactly overwhelm him with run support. In fact, they gave him barely any of it. The Sox had three runs or less in three of those starts (including one shutout), with the other two starts seeing the Sox score four runs in each. As such, it was hardly surprising that he had an 0-2 record as a member of the Red Sox entering the weekend. On Saturday, that luck finally changed.
After Bedard, who is still feeling occasional soreness in his left knee, struggled with command in the earlygoing Saturday against the Rangers, the Sox exploded for eight runs in the fourth inning, including a two-run homer from Jarrod Saltalamacchia and a grand slam from left fielder Carl Crawford. With the runs (the 12 they put up fell just one short of the 13 they had totaled over Bedard’s first five starts in a Boston uniform) finally came Bedard’s first win as a member of the Sox.
“It was great,” Bedard said after the game. “When you put 12 runs on the board, it makes it easier on a pitcher. We got some key hits, a grand slam, another home run by Salty, and we just played good tonight.”
Once runs started popping up on the board, Bedard was able to settle down. His strongest two innings of the day were his last two, and both followed the Sox’ high-scoring fourth. Given the 9-3 lead, Bedard struck out four batters over the fifth and sixth innings, and left the game after the sixth with six strikeouts over 101 pitches. His innings and strikeout total tied personal bests in a Red Sox uniform.
“It starts out where [the Rangers] are scoring, and they seems like they’re tacking on,” manager Terry Francona said, “and he’s able to stop it… and we have the big inning, and the game completely just turned around.”
For Bedard, it turned aroudn in a big way. An uneasy start to his outing changed as the game progressed and the Sox built their lead.
“I was just missing a lot with my fastball early in the game, and then gradually, when the game went on, I got it better and better.”
Offense wasn’t the only way in which the supporting cast helped Bedard. Though he allowed three runs over the second and third innings, things could have been much worse were it not for a pair of inning-ending unassisted double-plays from first baseman Adrian Gonzalez with runners on the corners.
Gonzalez snagged a line drive off the bat of Michael Young in the first and jogged back first to double up Josh Hamilton to bail Bedard out of a dicey situation. He one-upped himself in the fourth inning when sprinted in to catch a Craig Gentry bunt on a botched squeeze play and tag Yorvit Torrealba out around the plate as the Rangers’ catcher tried to make his way back to third.
“It probably got Bedard an extra inning,” Francona said of Gonzalez’ defense. “We’re looking at first and third and one out, and all of a sudden we’re coming off the field one pitch later. That’s huge.”
Though the start had to be considered enocouraging at the end of the day, both the pitcher and the manager know that the left-hander still isn’t in tip-top shape. When asked why Bedard struggled with his command early on (three walks over the second and third innings), Francona was quick to answer.
“I would say a lot of it’s with his knee,” Francona said. “I think there’s still some soreness and somem instability. He ends up throwing with his arm more than his body. As much as you want pitchers to keep their legs under them, I think at times it’s more hard for him.”
Bedard said his knee felt better as the game went on. By the time the game was over, he could finally feel something he hadn’t felt since June 15: the feeling of being a winning pitcher. His record on the season now stands at 5-9.
“It’s nice,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s for the team. If we win the game at the end of the day and I pitch good and we play good, that’s all that counts.”
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