By Ryan Divish The News Tribune
OAKLAND — Going into Saturday’s game at the O.co Coliseum, the Seattle Mariners were in the midst of brilliant run of starting pitching over the last seven games, receiving seven “quality” starts.
A quality start is defined as at least six innings pitched while giving up three runs or less. And while there has been criticism of the validity of the statistic and its importance, it does show that Mariners’ starting pitchers are at least pitching deep into games.
Even with all their early struggles and sub five-inning stink bombs, the Mariners rank third in the American League with 41 quality starts this season — thanks largely to Hisashi Iwakuma (12) and Felix Hernandez (10), who have combined for 22 quality starts this season.
The current streak started with Jeremy Bonderman’s impressive win against the Yankees on June 7th and included Aaron Harang’s complete-game shutout of the Astros on Wednesday. But in those seven starts, the Mariners have just a 4-3 record.
Yet it’s still good thing for Mariners manager Eric Wedge to see from his rotation.
“It’s just so important,” Wedge said. “It starts with your starting rotation. If you are going to have any kind of consistency, it starts with those guys.”
For Blake Beavan, that run of quality starts from his teammates means he has a lot of free time on his hands. The Mariners’ long relief man hasn’t appeared in a game since June 6, the day before the streak started.
In that last appearance, Beavan was stellar, tossing 62/3 scoreless innings and allowing just one run in relief of Harang. He’s ready to go out and continue to build off that good outing. But there has been no need for him.
“It’s been eight days,” Beavan said. “That’s a long time without throwing in a game.”
Beavan has spent most of his career as a starter and living that regimented routine.
“Being a starter is easy in that regard,” he said. “Everything is planned out. You know when you are going to pitch. You know when you are going to throw your bullpens. It’s all scheduled.”
As a reliever, Beavan’s pitching life is a little less planned out. In fact, it’s totally unpredictable. His outings are never certain. And because of that, he can’t throw too much before games. Any bullpen sessions off the mound are maybe 15 to 20 pitches.
It’s hard to stay sharp with command if you don’t throw bullpens or make appearances in games. He’s trying to figure out ways to maintain it.
Beavan’s pregame conditioning workouts have also had to be adjusted — particularly lifting.
“I can’t really go in and do hard upper body or lower body or core workout if I might have to pitch that night,” he said.
Of course, Beavan knows that if he isn’t pitching too often that means the starters are doing their jobs well.
“Our starters have been great and that’s what you want,” he said. “I’m just hoping to get an inning or two soon.”
Zunino gets a memento
An Oakland A’s grounds crew member retrieved the baseball that Mike Zunino crushed over the wall in center field for his first big league home run.
Zunino quickly gave the baseball to his wife, Alyssa, who is on the road trip. He did the same thing with the baseball from his first big league hit.
“I will lose that thing,” he said.
Zunino was out of the lineup a day after hitting his first big league homer. His backup, the recently signed Henry Blanco, got the start in the afternoon game.
Wedge wanted to get Blanco some early action. Blanco caught Hernandez in the World Baseball Classic in 2009 on the Venezuelan team.
“Zunino will back out there (today),” Wedge said.