SEATTLE (AP)—When the phone rang late Wednesday night, Travis Blackley wasn’t sure who could be on the other end.
Turned out it was Seattle Mariners manager Bob Melvin, with a proposition that was too good to pass up. How would Blackley like to drive up from Tacoma and pitch the next day against the Texas Rangers?
“I said as calmly as I could, ‘Sure, why not?”’ Blackley recalled.
The Australian left-hander showed the same kind of composure on the mound to win his major league debut, and Randy Winn drove in three runs to help Seattle beat Texas 8-4 on Thursday.
The 21-year-old Blackley (1-0), who had won his last seven decisions at Triple-A Tacoma, allowed four runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings against the Rangers. He walked three and struck out one.
“Not too bad,” Blackley said. “I didn’t have any filthy pitches that were just awesome today. I went as good as I could with what I had, and it worked.”
“Composure is one of his biggest attributes, not letting things bother him,” Melvin said. “He’s not a high velocity guy, but he’s a command guy who pitches to both sides and he’s not afraid to come inside.”
It was Blackley’s day, although he confessed to feeling a little weary after a rough night. After the call from Melvin, it took Blackley five hours on the phone to reach his parents in Australia.
His barking dog seemed to sense the excitement and kept him awake. Still, he was eager to go when he reported to Safeco Field.
“It was an adrenaline rush,” Blackley said. “I didn’t feel tired at all. I could go again.”
Blackley got plenty of offense, too, because the Mariners had their bats going early. They jumped on Texas starter John Wasdin (1-1) for three runs in a 30-pitch first inning. Seattle had four hits in the first, highlighted by Winn’s RBI double.
After trading All-Star right-hander Freddy Garcia last weekend, Seattle general manager Bill Bavasi promised fans they’d get to see the pitching talent that has been stockpiled in the minor leagues.
Blackley didn’t disappoint, using his curveball and off-speed pitches to set up an 86 mph fastball.
“The changeup was real good. He changed speeds on his fastball exceptionally well,” catcher Pat Borders said. “He threw strong and his composure was strong. To be able to throw like that in your first start is a big asset, something you can’t teach.”
Texas hitters hadn’t seen him before, and it showed when Blackley breezed through the early innings.
“You can see why they like him so much,” Rangers manager Buck Showalter said. “He’s got good stuff. He’s impressive.”
“The first time through, we weren’t sure what to expect,” said Kevin Mench, who hit a three-run homer in the sixth. “He threw the ball well. They staked him some runs early. That probably helped him relax a little more.”
Blackley left after allowing Mench’s two-out shot in the sixth. The left-hander received an enthusiastic standing ovation as he came off the field while Villone trotted in from the bullpen.
Blackley became the sixth Seattle pitcher to win his major league debut. The others were Joel Pineiro (2000), Garcia (1999), Bob Wolcott (1995), MarkLangston (1984) and Matt Young (1983).
Wasdin pitched 2 2-3 innings, allowing seven runs and eight hits. … Seattle’s six doubles were the most allowed by the Rangers all season. … Former University of Washington WR Reggie Williams, a first-round NFL draft pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. … Two of Boone’s hits required scoring reviews: a third-inning dribbler where C Huckaby initially was charged with an error and a fourth-inning shot pastBlalock. … Blackley threw 64 of his 108 pitches for strikes.