By Don Ruiz The News Tribune
SEATTLE — The problem with showing that you can work through adversity is that you have to go through adversity first.
Seattle Mariners starter Blake Beavan went through plenty in a four-run, 43-pitch third inning Monday at Safeco Field.
And even though that was all he and three relievers allowed, it was more than the Mariners (53-64) could overcome in a 4-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays (63-52) before a crowd of 16,205.
“(Beaven) did a nice job coming back,” Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. “He barely got through that inning and was able to give us two or three after that, and the bullpen kept it right there. So we were in the ball game, but we just never had that inning. We never put that inning together.”
Beavan had an easy first couple of innings, before slamming head-first into that brutal third. Sam Fuld and Desmond Jennings opened the inning with singles before B.J. Upton brought everyone in with a home run down the left field line. Matt Joyce followed with a single, and he came home on a Ben Zobrist double.
“If you make a pitch here and there you get out of the inning,” Beavan said. “If you don’t you’re just hoping they hit it right to somebody.”
For that one inning, Beavan didn’t make enough of the pitches he was looking for, and the Rays didn’t hit enough at someone.
But after that blip, he was solid again. He lasted six innings, allowed eight hits, and left trailing, 4-1.
“Just limit the damage to what has already happened,” Beavan said about his mindset heading back out for the fourth. “Just try to go out there, get ahead, put guys away, make good pitches, really focus on location and getting the curve ball over for strikes and making it harder on those guys.”
He succeeded enough to impress his manager.
“Getting through (the third) was big,” Wedge said. “That early in the ball game, the last thing you want is to do is to be in your bullpen the first game of the series that early. … He threw a lot of pitches that inning and we talked about whether even to send him back out there. … He got it pretty good. He got it pretty easy after that.”
The Mariners’ lone run came in the fifth. Trayvon Robinson opened the inning with a triple to the wall in left center. Eric Thames brought him home with a single. However, catcher Jose Molina picked Thames off of first, and nothing more came from the promising start.
Tampa Bay starter Alex Cobb sailed on to his seventh win.
“We really never got anything going,” Wedge said. “Their kid threw a really good game against us. He had a sharp breaking ball, did a good job with his fast ball, and I thought he commanded the baseball pretty good as well.”
Beavan was relieved by Carter Capps, who arrived in the seventh with a startling inning: three walks, but also three outs without damage done. Capps got out of the inning by striking out Upton by following a pair of 98-mph fastballs with a knee-buckling curve.
Lucas Luetge and Shawn Kelly closed it out with two shutout innings.
Seattle’s offense struggled in part from the cooling of catcher Jesus Montero, whose 0-for-4 night ended his streak of four straight multi-hit games.
However, Montero managed a defensive highlight, throwing out Desmond Jennings while trying to steal second in the fifth inning. It ended a streak of 20 straight stolen bases for Jennings.
“We’ve seen him do that several times,” Wedge said. “… To throw out a base-stealer like that — to put it right on the bag with a lot of velocity and very accurate — that was impressive.
Another streak that didn’t survive the night, was the Mariners’ two-game winning streak overall, and their seven straight wins at home.