First, the good news: there appears to be nothing wrong with Charlie Furbush, who felt a twinge in his triceps area in the seventh inning and was pulled from the game just two pitches in. The pain didn’t linger at all and Furbush was even able to go to an indoor cage and throw between 12 and 15 pitches.
“I did all the tests and passed all the test with flying colors,” Furbush said. “It could have just been that my arm was in the wrong slot, or a variety of things. I don’t really know…it could have been just one pitch that came out weird.”
Furbush underwent Tommy John ligament transplant surgery in 2008, so he doesn’t mess around when he feels something in his arm. Anyhow, the Mariners hung on for a 9-6 victory in one of those tough games for Blake Beavan to get a real good feel for.
You’ll remember that Beavan was the starter when the M’s won 21-8 in Texas and had an enormous lead early. This time, Beavan did a lot of sitting the first two innings as his team rolled up a 6-0 lead.
He gave up a three-spot in the third, then retired 10 in a row, which was pretty big and bought time for Seattle to go up 9-3.
“I just tried to keep focused on what I was trying to do out there, which was to go out and have quick innings and get us back into swing mode,” Beavan said. “For the most part, the defense helped me do a good job of that, to get back in. It gave them an opportunity to score some more runs.”
But the real story on the night was hitting. Every member of the starting nine had at least one hit and eight of the nine scored runs. Kyle Seager was the only guy who didn’t score, but his bat delivered that clutch double to help knock Royals starter Ryan Verdugo from the game in the second inning.
Justin Smoak and Jesus Montero — two struggling hitters prior to this series — both came through big again. So did Dustin Ackley, who collected two more hits including a triple.
Montero had three hits tonight and has five on the series after spending more than a month mired in a big-time slump.
“”I went through a little struggle for a couple of weeks,” Montero said. “Oh my God, it was getting crazy. I just tried to work on my routines and now I feel better at the plate. I see better pitches and I’m not swinging at bad pitches.
“That’s not going to happen every time. But I’m just trying to see good pitches and hit good pitches, so the results have been a lot better recently.”
Montero said he tends to get “too jumpy” at times and has been overanxious in going after hittable stuff.
“Thats what gets me out sometimes,” he said. “It’s hard but I try to stay calm all the time. Because I want to do good every single time, but it’s not easy.”
Nothing has been easy for Smoak this season, but the home run in the first inning marked the second game in a row he’s done that. The last time Smoak homered in consecutive games was almost two months ago.
Smoak also nearly had an RBI single on a hard liner to left but was robbed by a sprinting Alex Gordon. The same thing happened to Smoak on another line drive last night.
“As long as I can keep doing that as often as possible, good things are bound to happen,” Smoak said. “You’ve got to stay confident out there, grind out at bats and keep having fun.”
Mariners manager Eric Wedge had been hoping for these types of games for his club, which had seen them back in Texas in late May and then in Chicago and Anaheim in early June. There was also a ressurgence in Arizona later on in June, but slim pickings the past month.
“It’s been a nice group performance here the last couple of nights offensively,” Wedge said. “When you set the tone early like that and give yourselves a little bit of breathing room, it allows our young players to go there and relax and play and work to their true abilities a little bit easier.
“We’ve had some guys who have been struggling here working to find it. So, it’s nice to see them really put some consistent days together.”
We’ll know soon enough whether this is just a little mirage in the Kansas City heat or the start of something better. For all the calls to send young hitters to the minors last week, they’ve pretty much faced the equivalent of Class AAA pitching here the past two nights, just in a major league setting.
If this gets them the confidence back they were looking for — which was mostly the point of sending anyone to AAA to begin with — then maybe the M’s will have accomplished what they needed to without demoting anyone. We’ll see. The Royals aren’t the Tampa Bay Rays when it comes to pitching and those guys are looming after this series.
But for now, these last two nights were a huge change for this club. And they needed it.