Blake Beavan learned last year how easy it can be to speculate what the Seattle Mariners will do and lose focus on his upcoming start with the Tacoma Rainiers.
With the Mariners listing starter James Paxton on the disabled list Wednesday, Beavan’s start at Cheney Stadium could have very well been a tryout for Paxton’s place in Seattle’s rotation.
Beavan allowed two runs in six innings. It wasn’t flashy, but Rainiers manager Roy Howell said Beavan was outstanding. He kept them in the game just well enough for the Rainiers to win 4-3 on Cole Gillespie’s game-winning hit in the bottom of the 10th against the El Paso Chihuahuas.
“Just an outstanding performance,” Howell said of Beavan, who surrendered the 2 runs on a home run to Kyle Blanks. “He made one pitch that stayed a little high. The batter could have just popped that up, but, instead, he hit it out. That’s what makes this game so silly, but he did a great job tonight.”
Beavan retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced. The first hit he allowed was an infield single and the second a fly ball that center fielder James Jones lost in the lights.
“I think the biggest thing for me was executing pitches,” Beavan said. “I’m not going to light up the radar gun, but I have to keep guys off balance, use both sides of the plate, go down when I need to and I thought I did a good job of that.”
With the Mariners already without Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker, Beavan could be in line for a call up in the next few days.
“I’m not too worried about it,” Beavan said. “I’m just going to try to stay focused on getting prepared for my next start.
“I haven’t really thought about (a call-up) too much. I’ve kind of done that in the past – reading into stuff too much – but this year I’m trying not to and just do what I can to be prepared.”
He left with a 2-1 deficit after the sixth inning.
Nick Franklin erased a 3-1 deficit with a two-out, two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth – Franklin’s third in six games with the Rainiers.
Franklin came to the plate with runners at the corners in the 10th, but El Paso didn’t want any part of Franklin’s .474 batting average through the first six games. The Chihuahuas intentionally walked him to get to Gillespie.
“I was kind of looking up at their manager in the dugout and thinking, ‘Don’t do it, don’t do it.’” Gillespie said. “I just felt if they gave me the opportunity, I was going to come through.”
And he did, lacing a 3-2 pitch into left field to score Chris Taylor and give the Rainiers (2-3) their first win since the season opener.
Jesus Montero got the Rainiers on the scoreboard in the second inning, hitting his first home run of the season and giving the Rainiers their first lead since the first game.
He gave the Rainiers a chance for more in the fourth inning. Montero raced from first base to third on a slow-rolling single up the middle by James Jones. He beat the throw to third and bought enough time for Jones to stroll into second.
The Rainiers didn’t take advantage. El Paso starter Juan Pablo Oramas struck out Ty Kelly to end the threat.
Jones saved Beavan a run in the sixth, gunning Rico Noel out at the plate in plenty of time on Jeff Francouer’s single.
Jones couldn’t save the next one. Kyle Blanks followed Francouer by tagging Beavan’s high slider for a two-run home run. Cody Decker then hit a home run on Logan Kensing in the sixth.
Beavan pitched six innings, walked two and struck out two on 95 pitches (60 strikes).
The Rainiers lost left-handed reliever Lucas Luetge to the Mariners on Wednesday following Paxton’s trip to the DL with a strained latissimus dorsi.
The Rainiers wrap up their series with El Paso Thursday and with James Gilheeney making his first start. Keyvius Sampson starts for El Paso. The game will broadcast on 850-AM.