BRADENTON, Fla. -- This one was a little harder for Erik Bedard to shrug off, to minimize. Nonetheless, the taciturn left-hander gave it a shot.
"They missed a lot of swings early. Guess because of the sun," Bedard said after holding the Orioles hitless for four innings in the twilight of a McKechnie Field night game, and blanking them on one hit for 5 2/3 frames.
"I threw strikes and changed speeds," the Pirates' Opening Day starter added. "I threw more off-speed pitches to be better for the season, since I know the fastball is there."
Fortunately for both Bedard and the Pirates, he gets paid to pitch, not to pontificate. More important than his word count is his pitch count, which on Monday reached 79 as the Orioles started to knock him around. Six of the last seven men he faced got hits, although they added up to only one earned run.
When Bedard ran out of gas, he didn't just roll to a stop, but smacked the wall.
"I was thinking of getting my pitch count in, and started to miss some," Bedard said. "Give them credit: They hit the ball."