Out of a clunker of a series-opening 6-1 defeat to New York Thursday night at Safeco Field, the Mariners may have unearthed a silver lining.
Aaron Harang got pounded by the Yankees in a forgettable, six-run third inning, but in the ruin of a game that again dropped the Mariners to nine games under .500, Blake Beavan came on and defined the term long relief.
In the wake of the 16-inning, Wednesday loss to the White Sox that left the bullpen strapped, Beavan was called up from Tacoma as insurance against a short outing by an M’s starter. But in the big picture, his dazzling night — one hit over 6 2
3 innings — could put him squarely in the muddled back-of-the-rotation picture for the Mariners.
“What we did see (tonight) was Blake Beavan, as good as we’ve ever seen him, if not better,” said manager Eric Wedge. “I mean, he was tremendous.”
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You could call it window-dressing, given that the Yankees had streaked to a 6-0 lead by the time Beavan arrived, and with Phil Hughes throwing effectively for New York, the game was essentially over. But at least the Mariners could take something from a night when clearly, there wasn’t anything else to shout about.
When it was done, Harang was sitting in the clubhouse, pondering what went wrong, while another big right-hander, Beavan, was entertaining a cluster of media.
“Everybody keeps telling me it was bigger than I imagined, what I did tonight,” said Beavan. “But I feel I did my job — ate up innings and hopefully helped the guys out in the bullpen.”
The 3-5 starting spots in the rotation have been a question mark all season, and if Beavan is ready to step up again, it’s not as though there isn’t a potential opening.
“The thing you have to think about is what we saw from Blake today,” said Wedge. “We haven’t had time to have any discussions, but that was pretty impressive.”
Nothing in Harang’s first two innings portended the third. But Jayson Nix and Brett Gardner stung hard singles, and when Harang elevated a fastball to Robinson Cano, it ended up in the right field seats for a 3-0 Yankee lead. Mark Teixeira then hit a low fastball for an even longer home run to right-center.
There were a couple of dunkers in there as well, but when Ichiro deftly laced a line single to left over a drawn-in infield, it was 6-0, the Yankees had seven straight hits, and Wedge had seen enough of Harang.
On came Beavan, who had tinkered in the spring with his delivery, trying to get more movement on the ball, going away from what had gained him an 11-11 season a year ago. But his first two starts of 2013 went badly, and then he went to the bullpen, and before long, he found himself in Tacoma, toting an 8.27 ERA.
“I got out of whack, trying to do stuff that wasn’t me,” Beavan said, referring to the restyled delivery he has now discarded. “This time around, I feel a lot more comfortable, I feel a lot better about my stuff. I’m back to my old mechanics.”
Only Kyle Seager’s two well-stroked hits and Beavan’s performance kept it from being a completely lost night for the M’s.
Seattle got back Michael Morse from his quad injury, but he went hitless and struck out his first three times up.
Also hitless was Michael Saunders, now at .212 and with one RBI in his past 72 at-bats.
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or firstname.lastname@example.org