By Scott Rinear
First off, Happy Father”s Day to all the dads out there, especially to my dad, who I hope was able to catch some of the game today. The Seattle Mariners won yet another series on this 2011 Father”s Day, taking the rubber game of this series from the Philadelphia Phillies in front of a sellout crowd at Safeco Field. The story of the day was Mariners starter , who put on an absolute pitching clinic, hurling his 2nd complete game shutout in his last 3 starts.
-photo courtesy of thescoutmonkey.com
It”s difficult to describe a performance like the one we saw today from Vargas other than it was a true pitching gem in every sense of the phrase. Vargas mixed pitch speeds beautifully, working the inside and outside corners all game, inducing many easy ground balls and lazy flyouts. The final stat line for Vargas was 9 innings pitched, 3 hits, 6 K”s, and only two walks. And the third Philly hit didn”t come until a bloop single by Ryan Howard with 2 outs in the 9th. At one point Vargas set down 15 Philly hitters in a row. The only thing resembling trouble came in the 4th when the Phillies managed to get a few runners on, but that threat was promptly ended by when he caught a soft liner and doubled Carlos Ruiz off at first.
Most people around the country probably assumed that the dominant left-hander in this match-up would be the Phillies” . Hamels” record is an impressive 9-3, but that third loss was today facing Vargas and the Mariners. Hopefully this series against the Major League”s best team might help put the Seattle Mariners more clearly on the national map, as our carefully crafted mix of rookies and veterans have now won a series against the Philadelphia Phillies, Tampa Bay Rays, and New York Yankees. There shouldn”t be any 3-hour time difference excuses after today”s afternoon game. Philly fans, both in Philadelphia and the pockets of red that came out to the Safe this weekend all know this team is for real.
With Vargas pitching out of his mind, 2 runs were all the Mariners needed to get the win. had 2 hits and one of the RBIs driving in in the 6th. Ichiro ended up with another multi-hit game, and now has had at least 2 hits in 7 of his last 8 games, driving up his average to .277 (haters beware, you”re time is done). continues to prove he belongs, both offensively and on defense. Ackley lined a ball to the right-center gap in the 7th and legged out his first triple, then scored the second run on a pinch hit RBI single by . Ackley also made some solid plays at second base, showing some impressive range on a couple grounders. If Ackley can manage a double against the Washington Nationals in a couple of days, he”ll have a 4-game cycle in his first 4 Major League games. Somebody help me out, has that ever happened before?
I love that manager showed his confidence in Vargas letting him take the mound in the 9th. Even after Howard”s hit with warm and ready, Wedge called his infielders to the mound and had a quick pep talk with his starter. I can”t read lips, but I imagine it was something like: “you”re the man, now finish this!”
I”ll bet that was going to be Vargas”s last batter regardless because if Francisco had reached base, you never want a pitcher who threw the game Vargas had to that point to have any chance of taking the loss, and Carlos Ruiz would have represented the go ahead run.
None of that speculation ended up mattering, as Francisco flew out to end the game. And so it continues, as the Mariners went toe to toe with the mighty Philadelphia Phillies and came out on top. I can already here the Debbie Downers playing the “we didn”t have to face Cliff Lee or ” card, but if you look at the numbers, Cole Hamels is currently the best pitcher on the staff so I”m not hearing that.
The icing on the Father”s Day cake was a Texas Rangers loss to the Atlanta Braves, meaning the Mariners are back to within a half game of first place as they gear up to head to the nation”s capital for a series with the Nationals. And, thanks to the band U2, our upcoming road trip will only be those three games, as the Florida Marlins will be coming to Seattle at the end of the week but will suit up as the home team. So if you want to see our pitchers step into a Safeco Field batter”s box, come on out for the Marlins series. Go M”s! http://jeffsmariners.com