Mariners 3, Angels 0
Take away his throwing error on the first batter of the game and
Seattle’s Jason Vargas was nearly flawless.
The Mariners left-hander is on a pretty impressive streak of
four straight starts were he’s been close to perfect.
”He was about as consistent start to finish as you could ask a
starting pitcher to be,” Seattle manager Eric Wedge said.
Vargas went seven innings and denied former college teammate
Jered Weaver another chance at becoming the first pitcher in the
majors to reach seven wins, and Seattle beat the Los Angeles Angels
3-0 on Wednesday night.
The first of 19 meetings this season between the AL West rivals
went the way of the Mariners, thanks to another gem from Vargas,
who ran his streak of scoreless innings to 16. Vargas (3-2) threw
nine shutout innings last week against Baltimore, then followed up
by holding the Angels to four singles in seven innings.
While most of the attention goes to the arms at the top of
Seattle’s pitching staff – Felix Hernandez and rookie Michael
Pineda mostly – Vargas has won three straight decisions and allowed
just one earned run in his last three times on the mound.
”It feels good. I’m just trying to build, just trying to stay
where I’m at and not really change anything,” Vargas said.
Jack Cust provided the offense with two RBI singles and Justin
Smoak added an RBI double for the Mariners.
Vargas’ sudden turn of success followed a streak of nine
straight losses dating to last season. He’s gotten better in each
of his last four starts. When Vargas broke his losing streak on
April 29 at Boston, he gave up four runs and eight hits. He
followed up with a win over Texas where Vargas allowed one run and
Then came last week at Baltimore, when the lefty went nine
innings for just the second time in his career, even though he
didn’t get a decision in the Mariners’ extra-inning loss. He became
the fourth pitcher in Seattle history to throw nine shutout innings
and come away with a no-decision.
But Vargas didn’t let his shutout streak end.
He escaped a first-inning jam Wednesday by striking out Howie
Kendrick to end the threat with Erick Aybar on first. He again used
the strikeout to wiggle free in the second, getting Peter Bourjos
looking with Mark Trumbo at second. From there, Vargas didn’t allow
a runner past first, tying his career high with nine strikeouts,
including one of Bobby Abreu to end the seventh. He allowed two
walks and threw a season-high 115 pitches. In his last two starts,
Vargas has allowed 11 singles, walked three and struck out 13.
”He’s been very consistent with his delivery, with his release
point, with his arm slot and that all leads him in the right
direction,” Wedge said.
The Angels threatened in the eighth after Vargas left. Jamey
Wright allowed two walks and Alberto Callaspo’s infield single to
load the bases with two outs. He fell behind pinch-hitter Hank
Conger 2-0 then got him looking at a 3-2 pitch on the inside
Brandon League, who last week blew three save opportunities,
then pitched the ninth for his 10th save in 13 chances.
Weaver (6-4) sprinted to a 6-0 start to begin the season, then
hit a wall of losses that continued against Seattle, although the
Angels’ struggling offense didn’t help. Los Angeles has gone 21
innings without scoring.
Weaver wasn’t battered around by the Mariners, but it didn’t
matter on a night he needed to be perfect to match his former Long
Beach State teammate.
Chone Figgins doubled with one out in the first and scored when
Cust dumped a soft liner over the infield. In the third, Ichiro
Suzuki reached on an infield single that bounced off the plate and
scored on Smoak’s double into the right field corner. Remembering
that Weaver threw a 2-1 changeup in his previous at-bat, Cust
waited and jumped on a 2-1 change from Weaver and singled to center
to score Smoak.
”I’ve been feeling my swing come around, driving the ball a
little bit more,” Cust said. ”It’s a long season and the start
wasn’t what I was obviously hoping for. … I’ve been feeling more
comfortable lately and seeing the ball better.”
Weaver went six innings, giving up seven hits and struck out
NOTES: The Angels were shut out in consecutive games for the
second time this season. Boston posted shutouts on April 23 and 24.
… Seattle CF Franklin Gutierrez made his season debut after
missing the first 41 games with stomach issues. Gutierrez went 0
for 4. … The Angels went 15-4 last season against Seattle.
Tim Booth can be reached at http://twitter.com/tjbooth7