The eighth-inning sequence symbolized the most dominating night of Erik Bedard's career. After retiring 11 straight Florida Marlins, the Orioles pitcher allowed an infield single and then hit Jeremy Hermida. For the first time all game, the Marlins had a runner in scoring position.
Bedard responded by striking out Miguel Olivo, who flailed at a curveball. Then it was Chris Aguila's turn to swing through an off-speed pitch. Finally, with a good portion of the crowd of 16,135 standing and urging him on, Bedard fanned Florida center fielder Reggie Abercrombie on an outside fastball. His last offering, like his first about two hours earlier, registered 95 mph on the stadium radar gun.
In between, Bedard was spectacular, tying a career high with 12 strikeouts and holding the Marlins to just two hits in a 4-0 Orioles victory last night at Camden Yards. The left-hander faced just three over the minimum through eight innings, before giving way to Chris Ray, who allowed one hit in the ninth.
"It was fun." said Bedard, who won his second straight start and improved to 7-6. "I was just throwing strikes early. I got my fastball, curveball, changeup for strikes pretty much whenever I wanted. It's easy when you put all those for strikes.
Bedard threw 105 pitches, 75 of them for strikes. He turned to his curveball in the eighth inning when his fastball couldn't find the strike zone. His 12 strikeouts were the most for an Orioles pitcher all season.
"Eight innings, 12 strikeouts and two hits." said Orioles first baseman Kevin Millar. "I'll tell you what, it was pretty special watching him out there tonight. The [Marlins] first base coach [Perry Hill] looked at me and said, "How is this guy 6-6?" Phenomenal stuff, dominating stuff. You won't see a left-hander compete like that tonight."
Brian Roberts and Corey Patterson each had three hits and an RBI and Javy Lopez hit his sixth home run for the Orioles (33-40), who ended the Marlins' nine-game winning streak.
Bedard retired the first 21 of 22 batters he faced, giving up only a fourth-inning single to Alfredo Amezaga and an eighth-inning infield hit to Wes Helms. He didn't walk a batter and allowed only three balls out of the infield.
"I've always loved Bedard." said Florida manager Joe Girardi, familiar with the Orioles pitcher from his days with the New York Yankees. "He's got great stuff, and his performance tonight was as good as we've seen. This was as good as it gets."
Said third baseman Melvin Mora: "He doesn't know yet how nasty he is. He doesn't even know. He's going to know soon."
With the Orioles holding a 1-0 lead, tempers flared in the bottom of the sixth inning. A day after being hit in the left knee by Dontrelle Willis' fastball, Mora was hit in the left side by starter Ricky Nolasco's 0-2 pitch, the American League-leading 12th time he's been hit this season.
Grabbing his side while walking down to first, Mora glared at Nolasco, who reminded the third baseman that he hit him with an 0-2 pitch. Mora said something back and walked to ward the mound before first base coach Rick Dempsey grabbed Mora and several Marlins got in between Mora and the pitcher. Several players came off the bench, but there was no further incident.
The Orioles also didn't retaliate as manager Sam Perlozzo said that he didn't feel it was intentional.
"He was just staring looking at me, and I was like "What are you looking at?" And he say, "Two strikes, two strikes, no ball,"' said Mora. "And I say, "So. I mean what are you trying to tell me? That you hit me because you were trying to come in?"'
Said Nolasco: "He wasn't very happy, but come on, it's a 1-0 game, 0-2 count."
By the time Bedard finished off his outing, the incident hardly mattered.
"He was outstanding." said Perlozzo. "I don't think you can say enough good things about him."