Twins-Mariners Preview

While their teams’ performances have largely been lackluster,

the Seattle Mariners’ Jason Vargas and the Minnesota Twins’ Scott

Diamond are enjoying fine seasons.

The two will attempt to add to their team-best win totals when

they face off Saturday night at Safeco Field.

Vargas (13-8, 3.56 ERA) has never finished with a winning record

over his six previous major league seasons, the last three with

Seattle (56-64). The left-hander, though, is poised to pull off

that feat thanks in part to a recent string of superb outings.

Vargas is 6-1 with a 1.79 ERA over his last eight starts, and he

gave up one run over 8 1-3 innings Sunday while outdueling Cy Young

Award contender Jered Weaver during a 4-1 road victory over the Los

Angeles Angels.

Diamond (10-5, 2.97), who has four more wins than any other

member of the Twins (50-68), has pitched at least seven innings and

allowed three runs or fewer in four consecutive starts. Extending

that streak Sunday against Tampa Bay, however, wasn’t enough to

earn him a victory.

Diamond gave up three runs over seven frames and struck out six,

but Minnesota lost 7-3 in 10 innings, one of the club’s seven

defeats in its past eight games. He yielded two of those runs on

solo homers in the first two innings.

“When I’ve been getting in trouble early innings, I’ve still

been able to make a pitch and kind of collect myself and continue

to work,” Diamond said.

In his first start against Seattle, Diamond will face a team

that’s won 10 of 11 at home and five of six overall. The Mariners

earned their third straight win over the Twins in Friday’s series


John Jaso and Miguel Olivo hit early homers during that 5-3

victory, and Eric Thames and Dustin Ackley each drove in a run

during a pivotal sixth inning. It was Seattle’s first contest since

Felix Hernandez’s perfect game Wednesday against Tampa Bay.

“Our (starting pitchers) have fed off each other,” manager Eric

Wedge told the team’s official website. “I think they’ve done a

nice job of working to go out there, and not just compete as

individuals, but the collective five. They go out there and just

take their turn and give us every opportunity to win. I think they

take a lot of pride in that.”

Vargas will try to continue the Mariners’ string of successful

outings while earning his second win in his past three meetings

with the Twins. He did not get a decision in his only matchup with

Minnesota this season May 4 at Safeco despite allowing one run over

6 1-3 innings.

Vargas has given up one homer over his last five starts combined

after yielding at least one in 12 consecutive outings. He hasn’t

given up any in his last two matchups with the Twins.

Minnesota’s home run leader, Josh Willingham, is 0 for 14 with

seven strikeouts against Vargas.