PITTSBURGH, Pa. — Erik Bedard started the season out very strong in his first season as a Pirate. The lefty sported a 2.48 ERA over his first five starts in April and pitched more than seven innings twice during that span. But since exiting his seventh start of the season with back spasms, the lefty hasn’t been the same guy.
Bedard said after the game that he was healthy. But his numbers have not been pretty since then.
“I feel better than I’ve felt in the last couple years,” he said.
In his last 10 starts, Bedard has posted a 6.52 ERA over 51.1 innings. He’s tossed three outings where he’s allowed two earned or less, but the other seven has allowed at least four. Bedard has pitched less than five innings in half of those outings.
Bedard started out sharp on Friday night against the Giants. He tossed three scoreless frames and allowed just one base runner, a leadoff work to start the game in the first inning. But the fourth inning spiraled out of control in the fourth, and the left-hander was unable to finish the frame.
“I didn’t throw anything different. They were just hitting the pitches,” Bedard said. “I’m just going to keep battling and keep throwing strikes.”
After walking his leadoff batter, Justin Christian for the second time of the game, the runner scored after Ryan Theroit hit a double into center field. Slugging outfielder Melky Cabrera followed and crushed a 1-0 curveball for a two-run blast to left field. A second free pass and two more hits ended Bedard’s outing. Reliever Chris Resop escaped it with a ground out.
“We saw him really improve after the leadoff walk in the first inning,” Hurdle said. “The second and third, he was very crisp. Good location, changed speeds well. The fourth inning was a bad inning all around…The ball was just elevated and 37 pitches, that’s too many pitches for anybody in an inning to get through. It was time for us to move on. We’ll get some tape tomorrow and try and help him figure some things out over the break.”
Bedard needed 34 pitches in the five run frame. Overall, the lefty allowed four earned on four hits. three walks and struck out one.
Resop followed Bedard with 2.2 perfect innings of relief with three strikeouts. The right-hander needed just 22 pitches. Resop has allowed just one run over his last 10.0 innings.
“Chris has put together a bundle of very good load of games here,” Hurdle said. “Really good to see. We’re seeing Chris along the lines of some of the spreads we saw him in last year. Very efficient night…with some swing and miss stuff as well. Very encouraged he can help us in the second half.”
Alvarez Shows off Power With One Swing
Manager Clint Hurdle has pick and chose when Pedro Alvarez would face a southpaw on the mound. Alvarez hasn’t fared well against left-handed pitchers in his career, but has been showing signs of putting that in the past this season.
None was more evident than on Friday night.
With a tough lefty reliever on the mound, Alvarez fouled off three pitches, before launching a curveball to deep right-center field.
The ball was absolutely crushed, going an estimated 457 feet. With the swing of the bat, Alvarez tied McCutchen for team-lead in home runs (16). Javier Lopez hadn’t allowed a home run to a lefty bat since putting on a Giants uniform. His last home run came on July 28, 2010 at Coors Field to Carlos Gomez.
Barajas Back Behind the Plate, but McKenry Stepped Up
Rod Barajas was in the lineup today against the Giants, the day after getting scratched after batting practice. The catcher has caught just three games over the past 11 since suffering a bone bruise on his left leg on a play at the plate in Philadelphia.
“We’ve kept him throughout the first two months of the season more so on about two on, one off,” Hurdle said. “Now, with the injury, we just continue to look each other in the eye and say ‘look, we’ve got to be straight up with this. How are you feeling?’ I was looking to get McKenry opportunities in play more. Rod being down presented us that opportunity. McKenry moved upon it.”
“Rod’s probably in a position now where he can be more aggressive and take more innings, but why right now with McKenry playing the way he is, handling the staff the way he is, the way he’s been swinging the bat? It’s given him more opportunity to get much healthier, quicker. He felt really good today coming in. We’ll see where it goes from there. Then we have the All-Star break, which is only going to help.”
While Barajas has been getting back healthy, backup catcher Michael McKenry has been making the most out of his opportunity in the lineup. He has hit safely in his last 10 games and has hit .382 with two doubles, three home run and 11 RBI during that time.
“Starting the season, coming out of spring, trying to learn the role of playing every couple days, it’s tough,” McKenry said. “Especially as a young guy trying to learn that role and trying to figure out what approach to take up there every single day. Just having the opportunity to play a lot more has been awesome. Rod has done a great job of trying to lead me in the right direction since he’s played that role before. Just looking forward to growing in all aspects.”
“I’m a worker. I spend a lot of time in the cage. I know eventually it would pay off. I think early on, I was pressing a little too hard. Trying to do too much, trying to be a hero. Just putting a little too much pressure on myself. Now, I’m just relaxing and going out there and having fun.”
Will the Pirates Shuffle the Rotation after the All-Star Break?
How the Pirates rotation shapes up heading out of the All-Star break should be more clear by the end of the weekend. The players have a four-day break following Sunday before playing three games in Milwaukee and Colorado on the road.
“We have decided,” Hurdle said. “We’ll share that with you probably Sunday. I’ve got to talk to the pitchers first.”