Mariners ride Lopez, Figgins, Vargas to victory
SEATTLE – Forget about slowing down the rolling Twins or stopping his own team’s skid. For a scary moment, his breakout season didn’t matter so much, either.
Jason Vargas’ best – and most important – move in the Seattle Mariners’ 7-1 victory over Minnesota on Tuesday was one you will never find by looking at a box score or studying sabermetrics.
Vargas saved himself a potentially awful head injury by getting his glove up just in time to snare a wicked liner back at him by Joe Mauer. The ball was hit so hard, Vargas’ eyes were huge as he looked at the webbing at his black glove after the out. It was as if he was ensuring that part was still intact.
“I’m just glad I got it. I don’t know if I’ve had one hit that hard,” Seattle’s surprising left-hander said, adding he was scared and only saw the scary drive for a split-second.
Jose Lopez homered and drove in three runs and Chone Figgins had two hits including an RBI double as Seattle ended a three-game losing streak.
Minnesota’s Nick Blackburn was aiming for his career-high sixth consecutive win, after a 5-0 May with a 2.65 ERA. But he was gone after a season-low 32/3 innings, having allowed 10 hits and five earned runs. The Twins’ winning streak ended at a season high-tying five games.
Blackburn (6-2) said his sinker wasn’t sinking during Seattle’s decisive four-run fourth, in which Lopez hit his two-run homer – his third home run in five days – and Figgins had his RBI double.
That left the right-hander sunk.
“Tonight, everything was flat but still around the strike zone so I was getting hit pretty good,” he said.
Vargas (4-2) not getting hit was the story of his night.
After his escape with his wits and face intact, allowing Justin Morneau’s solo home run on a gift 3-0 pitch and just five other hits in seven innings didn’t seem so difficult. He ended a string of three consecutive no-decisions.
“Vargas, unbelievable for me,” Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said.
He could have been talking about this: the 27-year-old was competing for a roster spot in spring training. Now he is a surprise of Seattle’s skittish season.
Finally healthy after a couple years trying to get over hip surgery that cost him all of 2008, the former project with the Marlins and Mets has a 2.92 ERA – among the top 10 in the American League.
Asked what he would have said had someone proposed this back in March, Vargas said dryly: “I guess I wouldn’t have argued.”
Figgins has been so large a disappointment as Seattle’s new No. 2 hitter behind Ichiro Suzuki, people have been demanding he be demoted to ninth. But he has eight hits in his last five games to raise his average from .194 to .217.
His double was his first RBI in nine games. He also walked and stole his 11th base of the season.
Mariners 7, Twins 1
E—Mauer (3). LOB—Minnesota 7, Seattle 7. 2B—Mauer (14), Figgins (10). HR—Morneau (12), off J.Vargas; Jo.Lopez (3), off Blackburn. RBIs—Morneau (37), I.Suzuki (11), Figgins (14), F.Gutierrez (25), Jo.Lopez 3 (20), Kotchman (20). SB—Delm.Young (3), Figgins (11). RLISP—Minnesota 3 (Cuddyer 2, Span); Seattle 4 (Jo.Lopez, F.Gutierrez 2, Jo.Wilson). GIDP—Morneau, M.Sweeney. DP—Minnesota 1 (Punto, Hardy, Morneau); Seattle 1 (Figgins, Jo.Wilson, Kotchman).
|Blackburn L, 6-2||3 2/3||10||5||5||0||0||80||4.73|
|J.Vargas W, 4-2||7||6||1||1||3||2||104||2.92|
IR-S—Al.Burnett 2-0. T—2:45. A—18,740
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