Aaron Harang's first two innings looked like extensions of his last two starts.
He worked smoothly, striking out two and only hitting Robinson Cano with a wayward breaking ball on his way to six easy outs.
It appeared promising, since over his prior two starts, Harang allowed one earned run in 15 innings. His May batting average against was a respectable .232.
Then, the third came. Harang allowed six runs on eight hits in the inning. He picked up one out. The Mariners lost 6-1.
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Put that next to Blake Beavan's performance: 6 2/3, one hit, four strikeouts in relief of Harang. He faced the minimum 20 batters thanks to a double play. In case you missed it, Beavan was called up prior to the game. Hector Noesi was sent down.
Manager Eric Wedge, logically, did not have an answer postgame about any possible rotation shakeups. He did say this about Beavan, however:
“What we did see today was Blake Beavan as good as we’ve ever seen him."
Beavan mixed his pitches beautifully. He threw back-to-back curveballs. His fastball was crisp and well located. He's back to the delivery mechanics that helped him have a solid second half of the season last year. He changed much of that in spring training and once he was jettisoned to the bullpen, too. He also changed his mindset in the bullpen, admitting he let the disappointment of being down there weigh on him.
He says this time, he's pleased to do whatever is asked. Thursday's performance could have earned him a spot back in the Mariners' rotation, though the guess is it would not be Harang's. If Jeremy Bonderman falters again Friday, he could be in trouble.
"I think the biggest thing for me was getting back to starting down there and getting into a routine and a rhythm," Beavan said. "I kind of got out of that when I was here the first time. Just trying to do stuff that was more like me like using my fastball and playing off of that.
"This time around I feel more comfortable, I feel like I know what I’m trying to do out there even though I’m not starting, but coming out of the bullpen. I just feel a lot better about my stuff. I’m going to try to stick with that and build off of it."
Prior to the game, Wedge wondered how the Mariners would respond following Wednesday's 16-inning loss to the White Sox. They were flat, particularly at the plate. Just four hits against Phil Hughes and a trio of Yankees relievers.
Some other news, notes and quotes:
> Michael Morse was back in the lineup at DH after missing the last seven games with a quad strain. He tugged on a silver sombrero during an 0-for-4 night with three strikeouts.
> Kyle Seager's double extended his hitting streak to 10 games.
> Beavan's innings reset the bullpen. Everyone but him will be ready for Friday's game.
> Ichiro was 1-for-4 in his return to Safeco. The crowd applause for him was moderate.