Mariners will leave it to Beavan to snap skid
He sat in the back corner of the crowded visitor’s clubhouse at Fenway Park on Friday afternoon, tucked away by himself texting friends and playing games on his phone.
But today young Blake Beavan will be at the center of attention at the historic ballpark, with 38,000 sets of eyes and another sellout crowd in Boston watching how he handles the hottest team in the American League as Seattle tries to snap a 13-game losing streak.
All that stands between the Mariners and a franchise record-tying 14th consecutive setback is a 22-year-old kid making his fourth Major League start … against Red Sox All-Star right-hander Josh Beckett, who brings a healthy 8-3 record and 2.12 ERA up against a Seattle team that has struggled against far-lesser pitchers.
The easy-going Beavanseemed blissfully unaware of the challenge ahead on Friday, soaking up his first experience at Fenway and eagerly awaiting his opportunity.
“It’ll be fun just to get to experience all the history and all the greats that have played here,” he said. “The first thing I did when I got here was go out on home plate and take some pictures and send them to my parents and brothers and everybody. I told ‘em how much better it was being on the field than playing it on a video game.”
Beavan has done very well in his first three starts in place of the injured Erik Bedard, going 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA against the Padres, Angels and Rangers. Two of those games were at Safeco Field, while he faced the Angels in Anaheim and gave up two runs in 6 1/3 innings.
None of that quite prepares him for Fenway and its fabled Green Monster, though he draws on what experience he has from Cheney Stadium in Tacoma and other hitter-friendly parks in the Pacific Coast League.
“Coming from Tacoma, it’s not a very big park either down the lines,” he said. “You kind of get used to dealing with the PCL where the balls fly and the [smaller] parks you play at. You try to get that out of your mind. But at least here you know there’s a big enough wall where they have to ge it up to get it out.”
One factor that won’t weigh on Beavan is the heat, with forecasts calling for 100 degrees in Boston this afternoon. The Texas native says that suits him just fine.
“I kind of like it,” he said. “You sweat a lot, it’s hot, but it feels like back home. It’ll be different pitching in it because I haven’t pitched in that kind of heat in six months, and that feels like forever when you don’t see a lot of heat and sun in Seattle. But I think it’ll feel good for my arm.”
The Red Sox figure to bring a different kind of heat with Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, David Ortiz, Jacoby Ellsbury, et al. This will be a tough test for Beavan and it could be his last start for the Mariners for a while, if Bedard’s sprained left knee feels good in a simulated two-inning workout today.
But Beavan has proven he can pitch at this level and his emergence as another potential rotation candidate certainly is one of the bright spots in recent weeks for a Mariners team that could surely use another nice surprise Saturday as they seek to avoid making the wrong kind of history at Fenway.