4/14/2013 5:45 P.M. ET
Saunders' Safeco mastery continues in no-decision
By Bob Sherwin / Special to MLB.com
SEATTLE -- Left-hander Joe Saunders has established himself as one of the most effective pitchers at Safeco Field. He took a no-decision on Saturday, giving up one unearned run, and is now 7-0 with a 1.71 ERA in 11 starts at the Mariners' home park.
However, digging a little deeper into the numbers reveals even more dominance. Over Saunders' past nine starts, he has a 0.74 ERA, allowing five earned runs in 61 innings. In those nine starts, he has allowed one earned run or fewer.
Saunders' streak dates back to June 3, 2008, and includes six starts with the Angels, one start with the Orioles and two with the Mariners. Saunders' nine-game run allowing one earned run or fewer is the longest in Safeco history, two better than Brett Anderson (Aug. 25, 2009-current) and Freddy Garcia (Aug. 12, 2003-May 6, 2004). Jason Vargas also had a six-start streak from Sept. 8, 2011 to May 9, 2012.
Beavan trying to get mind right in bullpen
SEATTLE -- It wasn't right-hander Blake Beavan's arm, work ethic or throwing mechanics that got him demoted to the bullpen. It was his head.
"It's a good time for me to go down there and work on more the mental side of it,'' said Beavan, who, after two poor starts, has been displaced by the recently-acquired Aaron Harang as the Mariners' fifth starter. "I don't think it has anything to do with my stuff or mechanics. It's just part of maybe getting a little smarter, and have the opportunity to learn some things down there.
"I have an idea what worked for me in the past. I'm trying to be that pitcher, and not trying to trick people or throw wrong pitches in wrong situations.''
Manager Eric Wedge said Beavan, 24, needs a sharper focus in a couple areas.
"You would like see him have a little better command of his fastball,'' Wedge said. "I'd also like to see a little more consistent action of his secondary stuff.''
That will all come, Beavan believes, when he sets his mind straight.
"My two starts this year were trial and error, not being able to fix my mistake before it happened,'' he said. "I'm still young. I have a lot of time to learn and get better. I feel my stuff is where it needs to be. I feel like my mechanics are where they need to be.
"I need to get the mental side down, making smart pitches at the right time, not going with your third-, fourth-best pitches in situations you need to get out of. Stick to my strengths. That's something I can learn down there [in the bullpen]. How long I'm there is up to them."
Beavan has an 8.44 ERA, allowing 16 hits and 10 runs in 10 2/3 innings.
Beavan knows he can turn things around. He did it in the season half last season. After his promotion from Triple-A Tacoma on July 17, he went 8-5 with a 3.40 ERA in his final 14 starts (after going 3-6 with a 5.92 ERA in his first 12). He gives credit for his improvement to talks with former teammate Kevin Millwood.
"He told me, 'It's only one inning for you,'" Beavan said. "A lot of young pitchers have one inning that just kills them. You don't slow down the game and you don't figure out a way to get out of that jam. You just keep piling and and rolling and thinking about just getting the ball and going.
"He helped me in the second half by telling me what to focus on and bring confidence in myself. I found myself getting out of jams that I struggled with previously.''
That's what Beavan wants to get back to. That's what he hopes his time in the bullpen will help him accomplish.
Wedge hopeful Morse, Guti can return Tuesday
SEATTLE -- There's caution in manager Eric Wedge's voice, but he's holding onto the hope that two injured outfielders, Michael Morse (non-displaced fracture of his right pinkie) and Franklin Gutierrez (right groin) can get back on the field by Tuesday.
"There's a chance. He's [Morse] going to do some stuff today, so we'll see,'' Wedge said. "I'm hoping for Guti, too. With the off-day [Monday], I'm hoping he's come far enough along so he's not in harm's way. The concern is we've already lost two outfielders. We can't afford to lose another one.''
Wedge said Gutierrez was available "to a point."
"But how hard do I want to push that with two other outfielders down? It's a slippery slope as far as I'm concerned," Wedge said.
Ackley reverting to old batting stance
SEATTLE -- Dustin Ackley, who entered Sunday hitting just .108, is reverting back to the batting style that he used in the Minors, one that earned him his promotion to the big leagues in 2011. It's simplified, more erect, quiet and involves less pre-pitch movement.
"All the players here, it's their careers. The choices they make, they have to be all-in on,'' Wedge said. "Our job is to help steer them in the right direction. Regardless of what they decide what they are going to do, we're going to help them with 100 percent of our time, energy and passion.
"Dustin decided to make a few adjustments and hopefully get him back to the same basics that got him to the big leagues. I think it's going to pay off for him."
Bob Sherwin is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.