It’s unfair to say Charlie Furbush is on a roll because the Seattle left-hander has been among the best relievers in the game since opening day.
Just now, however, he has gone nuclear.
Over his past 14 appearances – covering 19 innings – Furbush has not allowed a run, and for 11 of those innings he didn’t allow a hit.
For the season, he began Monday’s game with Oakland with a 3-1 record and a 2.01 earned-run average. Opposing hitters are batting .123 against him.
“I’ve learned an awful lot from watching the guys who’ve done this longer than I have,” Furbush said. “Last year, in Detroit, I watched Jose Valverde and the way he prepared.
“He’d talk to you in the ’pen but as the game went along, you’d see his face change. As we got closer to the ninth inning, his focus kicked in and there simply weren’t any distractions for him.”
Every reliever, Furbush said, has a slightly different way to get to the same place.
“You have to be able to forget the game, whatever happens, and be ready for the next day,” he said. “I didn’t learn everything from one or two people; I learned a lot from a bunch of guys, just talking and observing.”
Furbush has developed his own pregame routine, beginning when the team comes in from batting practice.
“I’ll get something to eat, take a shower, put on my uniform and lock into my game mode,” he said. “The clubhouse gets quiet before a game, with most guys focusing on what they have to focus on.
“For me, it’s making every pitch. Some guys focus on getting physically ready. I find when I get physically ready, the mental comes, too.”
When he begins to warm up to relieve, Furbush lasers his focus down to each pitch.
“Some guys focus on the at-bat, the inning, the situation,” he said. “I go pitch-to-pitch. Commit totally to the pitch you’re about to throw.”
No matter what happens – strike, ball, base hit – Furbush then forgets the last pitch and focuses on the next.
“I’ve thrown ball one, and I’ve thrown ball one, ball two and ball three at times,” he said. “You can’t think about what you just did, except to slightly improve what you do next. It’s happened, it’s done.”
Among the things Furbush is doing now is striking out opposing batters – at least one in each of his last 16 appearances. That’s the seventh-longest streak by a reliever in Mariners history. The team record is 22, set by Joel Piñeiro.
Mike Carp will begin taking batting practice this week but won’t throw with his injured right shoulder until a few days after that. … Franklin Gutierrez on his two home runs last week. “A year ago, my best shots went to the track,” he said. “I just didn’t have any strength.” … Since June 2, the Seattle bullpen is 6-0 with a 2.29 ERA and six saves in six save opportunities.
Seattle hosts Oakland in a 7:10 p.m. game today that will be televised on Root Sports. Probable starting pitchers: Travis Blackley (1-2, 3.89 ERA) vs. Jason Vargas (7-7, 4.66).firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners