SEATTLE – There was a time in Blake Beavan’s life when there was no better place to be than a stadium with 10,000 fans on a Friday night.
That was his sophomore year of high school, when he played quarterback for Irving High in the football mecca of Texas. He gave up football after that season to focus on baseball. Friday night at Safeco Field he helped dim some of the Texas Rangers’ lights.
The Mariners’ 22-year-old rookie held the Rangers to four hits in eight shutout innings in a 4-0 victory.
“I just tried to stay calm the whole game,” Beavan said. “I grew up a Rangers fan. I went to a lot of games, watched a lot more of them on TV. I didn’t want to get caught up in who was in the batter’s box.”
Beavan was backed by a good-fortune offense that scored three unearned runs in a sloppy third inning by the Rangers, and Casper Wells’ solo home run in the seventh.
Seattle’s victory kept the Rangers from extending their lead in the A.L. West. The Rangers lead by 3½ games over the second-place L.A. Angels, who lost at Baltimore.
Beavan, 5-5 with a 3.92 earned run average in 13 starts, became the first Mariners rookie to pitch at least eight shutout innings since Felix Hernandez did it Aug. 9, 2005, against the Twins. Bevan also became the fourth pitcher this season to pitch at least eight shutout innings against the Rangers.
Beavan retired the first eight Rangers before former Mariner Endy Chavez singled with two outs in the third inning. The Rangers managed only three more hits – a leadoff single by Elvis Andrus in the fourth inning and back-to-back singles by Chavez and Ian Kinsler to start the sixth. Beavan retired the next three in both of those innings, including a double-play grounder by Andrus in the sixth.
A curveball, a pitch he has worked on in recent bullpen sessions, kept the Rangers off balance.
“He has gained a great deal of confidence in that pitch,” manager Eric Wedge said. “It’s a pitch he needs. It’s a pitch he can command in and out of the zone and a pitch he can throw when he’s ahead or behind in the count.”
Beavan threw 95 pitches through eight innings and Wedge considered sending him back to pitch the ninth. Then he saw who was coming up for the Rangers – Kinsler, Andrus and Josh Hamilton – and sent out closer Brandon League, who struck out the side.
“With this type of game and with that lineup … that was enough,” Wedge said. “If we had have tacked on (a run) in the eighth, I would have sent him back.”
Beavan didn’t have a problem with it.
“I wanted to stay out there one more inning like anyone would,” he said. “But with Brandon … closing, it’s a pretty easy call.”
“When you’re able to catch some breaks, you have to be able to take advantage of them,” Wedge said of the third. “We did that, and Blake was able to take it from there.”