I guess in the end, if it's any consolation, most of us signed up for this sort of baseball during the winter knowing full well what it meant. By supporting - nay, encouraging Zduriencik's plan to build a team around run prevention, we acceded to the condition that our offense wouldn't be all that strong. That we would get into slumps and sometimes have trouble scoring a lot of runs. Even off of guys like Edwin Jackson.
But still, sweet Jesus, that doesn't make games like tonight's any less infuriating. Not only did they manage only five hits and seven baserunners, but when they got into potentially lucrative situations, they blew it. Twice they had a man on third with one out, and all they got out of those opportunities were a bad at bat by Griffey, a bad at bat by Beltre, and an unpleasant fly ball double play out of Betancourt. Rob Johnson of all people got caught trying to steal second in the eighth. Griffey popped out on a changeup off the plate with a man on in the ninth. Offensively speaking, tonight's game just showcased mistake after mistake, and while Griffey's drive in the sixth and Beltre's drive in the ninth might've been interesting in another environment, the team missed too many balls and mis-hit too many strikes to score so much as a single run against Edwin Jackson. That's really annoying, and difficult to reconcile with this same team lighting up the Angels a few days ago.
It's a damn shame this feeble effort from the lineup came on a night during which the run prevention half of the team once again earned near full marks. Facing a predominantly right-handed order, Erik Bedard came within feet of six shutout innings, the decisive blow coming on a mincing bloop single and subsequent throwing error. Outside of that misfortune, Erik pitched with nary a blemish. He traded swinging strikes for more of the looking variety, racking up six called strikeouts and getting 12 called strikes out of 33 curveballs. He's now struck out 30% of the batters he's faced through three starts, a rate that matches favorably with his 2007. He also just threw strikes in general, which - I dunno, maybe it's just from having seen Felix all the time, but it's weird and feels tingly in my special area to watch a guy with Erik's strikeout stuff and have the confidence that he'll be able to put his next pitch where he wants to. In terms of raw power and movement, Erik's repertoire doesn't match up to Felix's, but because of his command, he's able to get more out of it, and that's why, while he's nominally our #2, I feel like Bedard is our top ace. At least for now.
The rest of the unit was solid as well, with the bullpen generally throwing strikes and keeping the ball on the ground while the defense made another two spectacular plays. I know that Ichiro airmailing Johnson cost the team a run, but between Chavez's (!) gunning down of Curtis freaking Granderson at the plate and Beltre's phonemenal stop on Marcus Thames, the gloves helped more than they hurt. Again. I wonder if I'm ever going to get bored of mentioning how neat they are.
But it wasn't enough, because we got shut out by Edwin Jackson, which is stupid. I guess the upside is that the team lost while playing its game, and that most of the time they limit the opposition to two runs they'll come out on top, but even so, there are going to be a lot more games like this - that's just the nature of this ballclub - and those games are gonna suck. Hard. Edwin Jackson. Has anybody seen Dough Waechter?
Silva and Porcello tomorrow at 1:10. Time to forget tonight and focus on trying to win our third straight series. The only problem is oh God Silva