Royals-Mariners Preview

If there’s a bright spot for the Seattle Mariners in this dismal
season, it’s been the work of Jason Vargas at Safeco Field.

The left-hander has been steady at home and looks to take
advantage of a struggling Kansas City Royals’ offense in the finale
of a three-game series on Sunday.

Vargas (7-5, 3.19 ERA) has the fifth-best ERA in the AL at home,
going 6-2 with a 2.29 ERA in 12 starts. He surrendered two runs
over six innings Tuesday to earn a 3-2 victory over AL West-leading
Texas.

“Once he got into trouble he made the pitches when he needed
to,” manager Don Wakamatsu said. “He’s been doing that all
year.”

Vargas did not fare well in his lone career outing against the
Royals, allowing eight runs over seven innings in an 8-2 road loss
Aug. 6, 2009.

Kansas City (47-63) is 9-17 against left-handed starters this
year – the second-worst mark in the AL behind Seattle (41-70),
which fell to 10-26 in such games after being stifled by Bruce Chen
in a 2-1 loss Saturday.

Chen yielded a solo home run to Russell Branyan along with a
pair of singles over a season-high seven innings. Closer Joakim
Soria picked up his 31st save in 33 opportunities to tie Tampa
Bay’s Rafael Soriano for the AL lead while matching Jeff
Montgomery’s 1993 club record with his 24th in a row.

The Royals managed six hits as their offense continued to
sputter on this road trip. They have scored nine runs while hitting
.188 in the first five games of a nine-game West Coast stretch.

A youth movement has given Kansas City’s Gregor Blanco and Kila
Ka’aihue increased playing time. Blanco is 2 for 8 in this series
and Ka’aihue 0 for 7.

Ichiro Suzuki, meanwhile, went 0 for 4 on Saturday, ending his
18-game hitting streak against Kansas City. He batted .408 during
the run.

The Mariners fell to 3-5 against the Royals, losing the season
series for the third straight year.

Kyle Davies (5-6, 5.32) will pitch for Kansas City after going
1-0 with a 3.68 ERA in his last six outings. Davies gave up two
runs over five innings Tuesday and did not get a decision in a 3-2
victory at Oakland.

The right-hander is 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in two starts against
Seattle this year, allowing three runs over six innings in a 7-3
victory at Safeco Field on July 7. Center fielder Franklin
Gutierrez, who leads the Mariners with 10 homers and 45 RBIs, is 8
for 16 in his career against Davies.