By Bob Dutton The News Tribune
BALTIMORE — That Eric Bedard trade continues to haunt the Seattle Mariners.
It was that 2008 deal that sent, in part, a young right-hander named Chris Tillman to Baltimore less than two years after the Mariners selected him as a 18-year-old in the second round of the 2006 draft.
Tillman is now firmly established in the Orioles’ rotation and, on Sunday, he out-pitched Hisashi Iwakuma in a 1-0 victory at Camden Yards. The only run scored on Nick Markakis’ leadoff homer on a full-count pitch in the first.
“You don’t want to walk the guy,” Iwakuma said. “You want to throw a strike, and he just put a good swing on it.”
It marked the first time in Mariners’ history that they lost a 1-0 game on a leadoff homer .. and the first time in the Orioles’ much-longer history that they ever won such a game.
And there you have it; the common thread to this game from a Mariners’ perspective:
History … stings. Because Tillman is now 6-0 with a 2.03 ERA in six career starts against the Mariners.
“I don’t know …,” said Tillman, who doesn’t have more than five victories against any other opponent. “I wish I could do that every time. Just another team now. I had a good game plan.”
Both starters were magnificent. Iwakuma (9-6) limited the Orioles to five hits in 72⁄3 innings while striking out seven and walking two. He came within one out of his first career complete game.
Tillman (8-5) was simply better in working seven shutout innings before handing the game to the Orioles’ bullpen. He allowed four hits while striking out six and walking none.
“He was moving the fastball around the strike zone for strikes,” catcher Mike Zunino said. “He was able to throw enough of the changeup and curveball to keep guys off balance.
“He kept us off-balance enough to keep us off the board.”
Andrew Miller rolled through a one-two-three eighth after replacing Tillman before Zach Britton got his 23rd save by pitching the ninth.
The Mariners were shut out for the 14th time and have now scored two or fewer runs in 42 of their 111 games.
“(The Orioles) are not talking about their offense today,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “They’re talking about a win. This is a game of results. When you win the game, you don’t talk about offense.
“When you lose the game, get four hits, you talk about offense. If we had won this game 1-0, we’d be talking about Kuma and how well he pitched. That’s just the way goes.”
The loss forced the Mariners (57-54) to settle for a 3-3 split on a road trip that began with a 2-1 series win at Cleveland. They remained two games behind Toronto in the race for the American League’s final wild-card berth.
Tillman went to the Orioles with outfielder Adam Jones (oh, my) and relievers George Sherrill and Kam Mickiolo on Feb. 8, 2008 for Bedard and a minor-league pitcher named Tony Butler who never reached the majors.
The Mariners got 30 starts over three injury-filled years from Bedard, regarded prior to the trade as one of the game’s top young lefties, before shipping him to Boston in a three-team deal for little in return.
Iwakuma opened game by surrendering that homer to Markakis — a no-doubter to right — on a full count after not getting a call on a borderline 2-2 pitch.
“I was looking for a ball up in the zone,” Markakis said. “Last time I faced him, it was a lot of splits down. That’s the kind of pitcher he is. You’ve got to wait him out and get him up in the zone.
“And when he’s up in the zone, don’t miss it.”
Iwakuma then struck out the next three hitters.
“Obviously, you don’t want to give up a home run,” Iwakuma said. “But when you do, you want to hold them from there. And I did. I thought I did a pretty good job, but when a run like that costs you, it’s tough.
“Today was a (pitchers’ duel) that, being a starter, you don’t want to lose.”
This was Iwakuma’s 18th career start in which he pitched at least seven innings while allowing one or no runs. He was unbeaten in those games, before Sunday, with 13 victories and four no-decisions.