Baek seeks to become the first Seattle rookie in 14 years to win four straight starts and the Mariners will try to continue their strong play when they conclude a three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday.
With a win, Baek (3-0, 2.22 ERA) would be the first Seattle rookie to win four consecutive starts since 1992. Dave Fleming did it twice while winning his first nine decisions en route to a 17-10 record.
Baek, recalled from Triple-A Tacoma on Aug. 22 after going 12-4 with a 3.00 ERA in 24 starts with the Rainiers, had his best outing Friday. He held Texas to four hits over seven innings of a 7-2 victory, striking out three.
“My breaking ball is sharper than it was last year, and I think that I’m more focused,” said Baek, who has battled injuries during his career. “Mentally and physically, I’m healthy … stronger.”
Baek would not speculate on his chances of being in Seattle’s rotation next season.
“That’s their decision,” he said. “I just focus right now on each game,” he said.
Baek faced Toronto in his first major league start on Sept. 2, 2004 and lasted only 2 2-3 innings in an 8-6 loss. He threw just 83 pitches, allowing eight runs and eight hits.
Inconsistent A.J. Burnett (7-7, 4.19) gets the start for Toronto. He’s alternated losses and wins in his last three starts after winning four straight outings from Aug. 6-22.
Against the Los Angeles Angels on Friday, Burnett lasted seven innings and yielded three runs, seven hits, walked two and struck out six in a 4-1 loss.
“He definitely gave us a chance to win, and that’s all we can ask,” Toronto outfielder Reed Johnson said. “If he’s going to be throwing those type of outings all the time, with this offense, more times than not we’re going to be able to put up more than one run.”
Burnett is just 3-6 with a 4.43 ERA in 10 road starts this season. The right-hander, making his third start of the season against the Mariners, is 0-1 with a 5.73 ERA and .340 opponent batting average against them.
Beltre has hit 10 of his 17 homers since the All-Star break, while Ibanez has hit only seven of his career-best 27 in that span.
Meche, who earned his 10th win, was 0-4 with five no-decisions since a 5-3 win against the Blue Jays on July 14.
“Everybody can quit talking about it, and me, I can quit thinking about it,” Meche said.
Seattle is 25-18 against the AL East, but only 30-53 against the Central and West.
Vernon Wells hit his 32nd homer for Toronto (75-70). He needs one more to tie a career best set in 2003.