The Mariners enter today in the midst of a 13-game losing streak. If they lose to today, it will tie the franchise record for most consecutive losses, which was set in 1992.
So when rookie Blake Beavan steps to the mound tonight in his first start at Fenway Park - one of the most historic and intimidating ball yards in baseball - he will not only have to deal with a ridiculously tough Red Sox lineup (see below), a raucous sold out crowd - many of which will have been fueled by numerous adult beverages - and his own personal nerves, he will also be trying to stop a frustrating run of losses that not even the reigning AL Cy Young Award Felix Hernandez could end.
Making matters worse, the Red Sox send three-time all-star and staff ace Josh Beckett to the mound. He's 8-3 with a 2.12 ERA in 18 starts this year. He's leads the major leagues in opponent batting average at .178. He's struck out 100 batters in 119 innings pitched.
In his career, Beckett is 5-1 with a 3.11 ERA in seven starts against the Mariners. In games at Fenway against Seattle, he is 3-0 with a 2.21 ERA in three starts.
It's not exactly a great matchup against a Mariners team that has struggled so much offensively.
So basically, Beavan is going to have to be near perfect against a lineup featuring two potential MVP candidates - Jacoby Ellsbury and Adrian Gonzalez, along with Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz and Carl Crawford. Meanwhile, Beckett has to just go out and be himself and he should be fine.
Am I saying the Mariners will lose? No. Everything I know about baseball, says they will. But if you look at last night's matchup of Felix Hernandez vs. John Lackey and knowing that Felix always pitches well in Boston, and Lackey has been sublimely mediocre since joining the Red Sox, I really thought the Mariners would win.
The Red Sox have never seen Beavan before, which works in his favor. Beckett can be hittable at times - though not much this year. Anything is possible.
A few other notes ...
- Dustin Ackley has the highest batting average in the American League with an 0-2 count. With 0-2 RBI single in the first inning of yesterday's game, he's raised his average .429 (9-for-21) in that situation.
- The Mariners have been successful on 18 of their last 20 stolen base attempts. Ichiro stole two bases last night and Miguel Olivo stole another.
- With the two steals last night, Ichiro has stolen 25 or more bases in 11 straight seasons, becoming just the 18th MLB player to accomplish the feat. The record is 22 set by Rickey Henderson.
- Brendan Ryan has a modest six-game hitting streak going.
- 51 Ichiro Suzuki (L) RF
- 26 Brendan Ryan SS
- 13 Dustin Ackley (L) 2B
- 17 Justin Smoak (S) 1B
- 4 Adam Kennedy (L) 3B
- 20 Mike Carp (L) LF
- 29 Jack Cust (L) DH
- 21 Franklin Gutierrez CF
- 3 Josh Bard (S) C
49 Blake Beavan RHP
Red Sox (60-37)
- 2 Jacoby Ellsbury (L) CF
- 15 Dustin Pedroia 2B
- 28 Adrian Gonzalez (L) 1B
- 20 Kevin Youkilis 3B
- 34 David Ortiz (L) DH
- 13 Carl Crawford (L) LF
- 16 Josh Reddick (L) RF
- 33 Jason Varitek (S) C
- 10 Marco Scutaro SS
19 Josh Beckett RHP