ANAHEIM, CALIF. – The pitch the Seattle Mariners have been having the most success with this season is the fastball, which was precisely the pitch that got rookie Garrett Richards to the major leagues.
The Los Angeles Angels right-hander threw his fastball all night – topping out at 97 mph – put it precisely where he wanted and, except for Michael Saunders, dominated the Mariners for seven innings.
After a one-sided 6-1 loss to the Angels, the Mariners did more than tip those proverbial caps.
“The kid was throwing 96 mph all night, he cut the ball, he made it sink, and had great movement,” manager Eric Wedge said. “Then he mixed in an 89 mph slurve and late in the game showed us a change-up.
“That kid threw one heck of a game.”
While Richards was painting corners with his mid-90s heat, Blake Beavan was beaten by the long ball, surrendering three home runs and all six Angels runs in five innings.
Center fielder Mike Trumbo had two home runs, Torii Hunter one, and Beavan has given up 11 runs in his past 12 innings. Those are the kind of numbers that can cost you a spot in the rotation – and on the roster.
After a quick first inning, things went sideways fast.
“As a starting pitcher, you don’t want to adjust until you have to,” Beavan said. “I went out in the second inning to do what I’d done in the first inning, get ahead with my fastball, and they adjusted.”
Back-to-back home runs by Trumbo and Hunter came on consecutive pitches. Then came a four-hit, two run third inning.
“Good pitches, bad pitches, they made me pay,” Beavan said. “I threw a lot of good pitches. I adjusted, but I didn’t make the pitches I wanted to.”
The worst example? In the fifth inning, down 4-1, Beavan got ahead of Trumbo 0-2 with a man on, then hung a pitch that Trumbo turned into his 12th home run.
“On an 0-2 pitch, you can’t give up two runs. That can’t happen,” Bevan said.
If Beavan had been sharper, would it have mattered? If he’d allowed, say, only three runs to the Angels, could the Mariners have rallied to win?
It’s always possible, but the Mariners’ offense Tuesday was a one-man attack.
Saunders, the center fielder who made the team because Franklin Gutierrez was injured, homered in the second inning, singled in the fifth and doubled in the seventh.
The rest of the lineup? Well, Dustin Ackley singled in the sixth inning. Jesus Montero singled in the ninth.
And that was it.
Saunders finished the night 3-for-4, which pushed his batting average to .266. The rest of the Mariners went 2-for-28.
“Michael’s been good all year, but early on, I said teams were pitching him better than almost anyone on the team,” Wedge said. “He gives you a spirited, tough at-bat, and he’s really playing well.”
Batting eighth in the lineup, Saunders said he had the opportunity to watch Richards pitch a little.
“We tried to find video on him and got a little from last year, but it wasn’t much,” Saunders said. “I watched how he pitched the guys in front of me and had an idea what to expect.
“The first at-bat, he threw all fastballs – cutters, sinkers – and after that, I saw off-speed stuff, sliders and a curve. And in the last at-bat against him, he threw me a change-up.”
Saunders hit ropes on all three of his hits, and his sixth homer of the season, good for his 20th RBI, produced Seattle’s lone run.
The loss dropped the Mariners to 4-4 on this trip with one game email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @LarryLaRue