After giving up six runs in 5.2 innings last Monday to the Chicago White Sox, Orioles starter Erik Bedard admitted he was going through a "dead arm" period which was affecting his velocity and command.
I think his arm is alive and well again.
Bedard pitched what was perhaps one of the best games of the past 50 years on Saturday night, and Baltimore shut out the Rangers, 3-0. Erik went the distance, giving up just two hits and no walks on the night. Both Texas baserunners were erased on double plays, meaning Bedard faced the minimum of 27 batters, a rare feat in itself.
He also struck out 15, tying a club record set by Mike Mussina in 2000. Other than a pair of singles hit by Desi Relaford and Sammy Sosa, no other Ranger even came close to getting a hit.
Needless to say, it was as dominating a performance as we've seen out of any pitcher in the majors this year. His game score was 98, topping such notable starts as Mark Buerhle's no-hitter against the Rangers on April 18th (94), and Justin Verlander's no-hitter against the Brewers on June 12th (95). Not only that, but Bedard's start is tied for the 54th highest game score since 1957, as well as the 5th highest game score in the past decade. Absolutely ridiculous.
Bedard was throwing fastballs in the mid-90's, along with a devastating array of breaking pitches (especially the curveball), and was getting everything over the plate for strikes. Unfortunately, not every Ranger agreed with home plate umpire Tim Welke's definition of a strike:
"It seems like the strike zone has been big the past week or so, but all I can say is that we were not happy with it," Wilkerson said.
Wilkerson struck out three times, twice looking. Then again, it's not like that's a big surprise or anything.
Brandon McCarthy was solid for Texas, giving up just two runs (only one earned) in six innings of work. Jay Gibbons homered into the Rangers bullpen in the 2nd inning, and a Gerald Laird throwing error allowed Aubrey Huff to score in the 4th inning, but that was all for the Orioles against B-Mac.
McCarthy surrendered four hits and two walks during his 97 pitches of work, striking out three. All in all, a very nice outing, but it was all for naught. Willie Eyre soaked up the final three innings of the game, and gave up an RBI single in the 9th inning, but it was pretty clear by that point that the Rangers weren't going to score anyway, so it didn't really matter. At least Eyre's performance gave the rest of the bullpen a much needed day off.
Mark Teixeira will begin his rehab assignment with Double-A Frisco on Wednesday, and is still on schedule to rejoin the Rangers on July 13th, the first game after the All-Star break. Tex wants to play Wednesday's game, then fly out to Anaheim with the team on Thursday.
Kenny Lofton missed a third consecutive game with a bruised right knee, but is expected to play on Sunday. Also, Ian Kinsler doesn't sound real optimistic about the stress fracture in his left foot:
"There's nothing I can do except lift and throw and not put pressure on the foot," he said. "There's no telling how long it will take, it just depends on how my body responds."
Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports that the Rangers may have make a decision on whether to sign first-round pick Blake Beaven to a 2007 contract, or a 2008 contract. Signing Beaven to a 2008 contract would restrict him from being able to pitch in the Arizona Rookie League this year, but would delay the requirement to put Beaven on the 40-man roster by a full year.
Since Beaven would reportedly be able to pitch in the Fall Instructional League anyway, I'd lean towards a 2008 deal. The AZL Rangers wrap up their season on August 30th, and when factoring in the earlier report that Beaven probably won't sign until at least August 10th, it doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense to sign him to a 2007 contract. In the disastrous event that Texas doesn't sign Beaven before the August 15th deadline, the Rangers would receive a first-round pick in the 2008 draft as compensation.
Kevin Millwood will square off against Daniel Cabrera on Sunday afternoon, as the Rangers and Orioles play the rubber match of their three game series.
Thank goodness Cabrera is a right-hander. After the way Buerhle and Bedard have manhandled Texas this year, I doubt the Rangers want to face another left-handed power pitcher for a long, long time.
Sunday, July 8th Game Preview
Baltimore Orioles ( 38-48 ) at Texas Rangers ( 37-50 )
Daniel Cabrera ( 6-9, 5.15 ERA ) vs. Kevin Millwood ( 5-7, 6.54 ERA )
2:05 PM CST in Arlington, Texas ( Rangers Ballpark in Arlington )
TV: KDFI/My27 | Radio: KRLD 1080 AM