PHOENIX – Take all that stuff we saw and heard about Safeco Field last week and throw it in reverse.
That’s pretty much what the Mariners ran smack-dab into at Chase Field this week – the same way the home team ran their bats into Jason Vargas pitches Wednesday. Vargas gave up five of six home runs allowed by Seattle pitching in a 14-10 loss that capped a defeat for the Mariners in a series they’ll want to forget as quickly as possible.
There wasn’t much to be learned about the team, playing in this desert bandbox, other than the fact they can keep pace most of the way in these bizarre, video-game style outings.
“I felt we were making good, hard contact,” Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager said after blasting a two-run homer, a double and a single. “So, those last couple of games have been good.”
Seager also had a three-run homer in a Tuesday night slugfest win. He finished with seven hits in the three games.
“I got in some good work in the cage and started to feel better toward the end of the Seattle homestand,” he said. “So, I feel good right now.”
Plenty of Mariners hitters feel good about themselves right about now.
The pitchers? Not so much.
The Mariners did all they could to make it through the series with their bullpen semi-intact after the Diamondbacks equaled a franchise record with six home runs.
A crowd of 29,630 at Chase Field went delirious on the last of those in the sixth inning as a Ryan Roberts drive to center off Hisashi Iwakuma got away from Michael Saunders and bounced around for an inside-the-park homer.
Before that, it seemed like every pitch Vargas tried to throw during his 4 1/3-inning stint kept flying over a fence someplace. The Mariners got a three-run homer in the eighth by Franklin Gutierrez – his first in 13 months – to make the score closer, but Seattle never overcame the long balls surrendered by Vargas.
“Regardless of the park, I pitched up in the strike zone way too much,” Vargas said. “The bullpen really could have used some time and you just feel like you let them down.”
Vargas simply could not throw strikes to Justin Upton when he needed to. The big blast was a three-run homer to left-center by Upton on a 3-0 pitch.
“I gave them some opportunities and they didn’t miss any of them,” Vargas said. “I think I’ve said it the last few starts, but an adjustment has to be made. I know I’ve said it before but you can’t keep going out there and … give up home runs like that.”
That’s 20 home runs allowed by Vargas in his 16 starts – all but four starts coming away from the pitcher-friendly confines of Safeco Field.
With the off day today, Wedge hopes the Mariners’ bullpen will be fine for the weekend.
With the Mariners outscored 23-22, Wedge will be thrilled to get his team out of Arizona and hoping the offense can carry some of their good fortune to another park.
“The offense was again encouraging,” he said. “Being down that much and still fighting back, still playing, still hustling. But they (Diamondbacks) were just really squaring up the ball