ARLINGTON, Texas - For the return of Erik Bedard, the Seattle Mariners brought out their bats Monday, only to have the Texas Rangers one-up them and bring out their runs.
At one point in the eighth inning, the Mainers had 10 hits to the Rangers’ five, and still trailed by two runs before losing, 6-4.
“We’re creating opportunities to score, but we’ve got to do a better job finishing innings,” Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. “I was real pleased with Erik tonight. He hadn’t been out there in a long time, and he had the same rhythm and tempo we saw all spring.
“He pitched well. We made some mistakes behind him.”
One was not scoring enough runs, and if Wedge thinks, after four games, that his team isn’t finishing off innings, he shouldine have seen this team in 2010. They weren’t among the worst offenses in 40 years by accident.
There was another mistake, every bit as costly, that came in the field.
Bedard was trailing, 1-0, in the second inning after giving up an Elvis Andrus home run in the first. He got two quick outs in the second, gave up a single, then got a looping liner to right field from Yorvit Torrealba.
Ichiro Suzuki charged the ball, but seemed to be caught between sliding for the catch or running through the ball. He slid.
The ball hit him in the glove, chest high, and bounced out. Error, Ichiro. Worse, the next batter, Julio Borbon, tripled home two runs, and it was 3-0.
The Mainers never did catch up.
If Ichiro’s misplay loomed large, and Seattle’s offense simply loomed, Bedard pitched well enough to have won most games.
After throwing 50 pitches in two innings, he got through five innings on 95 pitches, allowing four hits and three earned runs.
“It’s been awhile,” said Bedard, who had missed almost two seasons with major injuries that required surgery. “I hadn’t forgotten how to pitch, but I was excited.
“It’s fun to be a big-leaguer. What better job is there?”
Two of the hits he allowed were home runs, one of historical note to Nelson Cruz, the other that first-inning shot by Andrus. For Cruz, the home run was his fourth in as many Texas games.
Only two other men in baseball history – Willie Mays and Mark McGwire – had homered in each of his team’s first four games.
Cruz will have a chance tonight to break that mark.
“He’s locked in,” Wedge said.
From the perspective of a Mariners fan, there was one highlight other than Bedard’s pitching that likely will be showing up on YouTube and sports highlight shows – Jack Wilson’s stunning double play turn in the sixth inning.
“I’m still learning to play second base, and I had no idea what I was doing other than trying to get to the ball,” Wilson said.
Oh, he got to Torrealba’s sharp grounder up the middle, stabbing it with a backhand that carried him right over the bag at second.
As he did, Wilson stutter-stepped and managed to step on the base with his back foot as he headed toward the outfield.
Then he turned 180 degrees – while running away from first base – and threw a bullet to Justin Smoak, right on line, to beat Torrealba.
“That’s a Web Gem,” said infield coach and former second baseman Robbie Thompson, referring to ESPN’s nightly defensive highlights. “That’s a big league player. Just a spectacular play – just getting to the ball was tough. From that point on, it was all Jack’s instincts.”
Wilson still hadn’t seen a replay after the game, partially out of respect to his team.
“We lost, and you don’t come in the clubhouse after a loss and ask someone to cue up a play you made,” he said. “It helped get us out of a jam, so that was big. But we lost the game.”
That they did, dropping their record to 2-2 after four road games.
As Wedge pointed out, they had their chances.
Their biggest probably came in the fourth and fifth innings, when the Mariners left a runner at third base in each and emerged still trailing by only one run.
In the fourth, they pushed home two runs, but had a man at second base with no one out, then at third with two outs, and couldn’t get him home.
An inning later, Wilson led off with a double and, trailing 4-2, got another double from Ichiro – and still didn’t score. Wilson held to see if Ichiro’s ball would be caught.
So Seattle had runners at second and third base with no one out.
And scored once. On a ground ball out.
Chone Figgins got the run in with a chopper to shortstop, but Milton Bradley – who had three hits in the game – struck out. Behind him, Jack Cust grounded out.
It was 4-3, Texas, and the Mariners never got closer.