Vargas throws latest gem for M’s in Denver
DENVER – The Mariners can unveil a new motto: Coors Field, so what?
In the ballpark renowned for its no-holds-barred offense – though less so since the baseballs began being stored in a humidor in 2001 – Seattle’s starters have breezed, at the same time its hitters have awakened.
After Kevin Millwood turned in a two-hit shutout on Friday, Jason Vargas had the Rockies blanked with two outs in the seventh on Saturday. He lost the shutout, but the Mariners breezed to a 10-3 victory.
“It was a good vibe today,” M’s shortstop Brendan Ryan said. “Everyone was pulling for each other, and it got contagious. We were putting good passes on the ball. You don’t run into that many hits on accident.”
The Mariners banged out 14 hits on a cold, gloomy day in which a postponement loomed as a possibility most of the morning. But they played without interruption, and everyone in the Mariners’ starting lineup except Alex Liddi had a hit.
Perhaps most pleasing for manager Eric Wedge was their dramatic turnaround with runners in scoring position. That situation had been their undoing on this trip, which began with six losses in seven games before their Mile High rejuvenation. But after going 6 for 58 in the first seven games, they were 6 for 10 on Saturday.
“I was very pleased up and down the lineup,” Wedge said. “We took good swings, aggressive swings, squared up some fastballs, laid off some great breaking balls. There was a lot to like out there today.”
The biggest stick was wielded by their emerging standout, Kyle Seager, who was 3 for 4 with three runs batted in, but he was far from alone. The Mariners scored in double figures for the first time this season.
Seager got the Mariners started in the second inning off Rockies rookie left-hander Christian Friedrich, making his third career start. Jesus Montero, back in the starting lineup after two days on the bench, worked a walk on a 3-2 pitch, and then Seager drove the ball over the right-field wall for his fifth homer.
“It was definitely good to get on the board there and give Vargas a little run support,” Seager said.
Seager also singled home a run in the third inning and has 19 RBIs in his last 16 games.
“He’s a young hitter still learning, but I think he has a good feel for his hitting zone, and he’s getting a better feel for the strike zone,” Wedge said. “He’s confident, and not afraid to take some chances up there.”
The previously slumping Montero had three singles, and Ryan, whose average had dipped to .150, had two hits. Ryan tripled in the fourth inning and scored on a single by Vargas over the drawn-in infield.
“He was much better today,” Wedge said of Montero. “I think a couple of days off helped him as much mentally as anything else. He did a better job behind the plate, did a better job offensively, stayed on the ball better. I know there’s a lot of talk about this guy, and rightfully so, but he’s still a 22-year-old player we need to nurture along and take care of as well as we can.”
Montero believed that his walk was as important in getting him going.
“When you’re in a slump, and things are going a little bad, you have to slow everything down, see more pitches, see better pitches, and don’t swing at bad pitches,” he said. “That’s what I tried to do today, relax and hit good pitches.”
Vargas later walked and scored as the Mariners blew open the game with four in the sixth.
Dustin Ackley delivered a two-run double, followed directly by Casper Wells’ two-run single.
Vargas, meanwhile, was breezing on the mound. He gave up a second-inning walk to his former Long Beach State teammate Troy Tulowitzki, who didn’t advance. The Rockies had two harmless singles heading to the seventh, when Jason Giambi got a one-out double. He moved to third on a ground out, and Vargas was one strike away from getting out unscathed when Jordan Pacheco dropped a single to left.
Mariners 10, Rockies 3
LOB—Seattle 8, Colorado 3. 2B—Ackley (8), M.Saunders (11), Giambi (2). 3B—Ryan (1). HR—Seager (5), W.Rosario (6). RBIs—Ackley 2 (14), C.Wells 2 (6), J.Montero (18), Seager 3 (26), Vargas (1), Pacheco (4), W.Rosario 2 (13). RLISP—Seattle 4, Colorado 1. RMU—Cuddyer. GIDP—Ryan, Colvin. DP—Seattle 1, Colorado 1.
|Vargas W, 5-3||7||5||3||3||1||1||3.34|
|Friedrich L, 1-1||5||9||8||8||4||3||5.00|
IR-S—Rogers 3-3. WP—Delabar, Friedrich, Rogers. PB—W.Rosario. T—2:42. A—30,784 (50,398).