SEATTLE – The biggest challenge Blake Beavan faced Sunday was sleeping.
He didn’t get to bed until the early morning hours after picking up his family at the airport, and even then it was a restless night.
It’s typical of anyone on the eve of their major league debut, but especially for Beavan, 22, because he was the Seattle Mariners’ starting pitcher Sunday.
How much sleep did he get?
“I got enough,” Beavan said, moments after he held the San Diego Padres to three hits in seven innings of a 3-1 Mariners victory at Safeco Field.
Selected to start in place of Erik Bedard, who’s on the disabled list because of a sprained left knee, Beavan wasn’t told of the Mariners’ plans until Saturday afternoon. He was with the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers, where he’d put together a 5-3 record with a 4.45 earned-run average, including a seven-game stretch in which he’d gone 4-2, 2.93 since May 26.
Rainiers manager Darrin Brown broke it to Beavan that he’d start Sunday’s game, and the right-hander immediately made phone calls and travel arrangements.
“It was kind of a shock,” he said. “Then I realized I had to call my parents and my wife and try to get them out here (from Dallas). I was fortunate enough to get them here, and them being here kind of helped me calm down.”
Beavan, a 6-foot-7, 240-pounder, said he was a bundle of nerves when he stepped to the mound, but he settled down quickly.
He didn’t allow a hit until Alberto Gonzalez’s one-out single in the third inning, and Will Venable’s RBI double in the next at-bat scored the Padres’ only run. After that, Beavan allowed only three more base runners through seven innings – another Venable single in the fifth, plus a hit batter and a walk.
By then, the Mariners had a 3-1 lead.
Adam Kennedy’s RBI single in the first inning scored Ichiro Suzuki, and both Justin Smoak and Dustin Ackley hit sacrifice flies in the third inning off Padres starter Matt Latos.
“He was on the plate and he stayed aggressive,” manager Eric Wedge said of Beavan’s performance. “You make them beat you and put them on the defense. That’s what the good ones do.”
Yeah, but not always in their first major league outing.
“I took a deep breath out there and told myself it was just another game,” Beavan said. “It was everything I could have imagined and more. It was good to get out there, get the butterflies out. After the first inning I calmed down and locked in and realized, ‘You’re up here. Make some pitches and go from there.’”
David Pauley escaped a bases-loaded jam to pitch a scoreless eighth, and Brandon League retired three straight in the ninth for his American League-leading 22nd save.
It ended the Mariners’ stretch of 15 straight games against National League teams and sent them onto a seven-game road trip before the All-Star break. Today’s game at Oakland begins a stretch of 11 straight against A.L. West teams.
“We’re getting back into our division now,” Wedge said. “That’s where you’ve got to get it done.