PHOENIX — Maybe having a hitter’s friendly park isn’t such a good thing. Sure, the Seattle Mariners scored 10 runs and banged out 14 hits, including a couple of home runs.
Solid production, yes?
Not in comparison to what the Arizona Diamondbacks did on Wednesday afternoon.
The D’Backs scored 14 runs on 16 hits and pounded out six homers in a 14-10 win over the Mariners.
For the series, Mariners pitching gave up 30 runs on 41 hits with 22 extra base hits and nine home runs.
Of course, Jason Vargas was the first to admit that the park had little to do with the D’Backs offensive explosion in his start. It wouldn’t have mattered what park he was pitching in – Chase Field, Safeco Field or Yellowstone – leaving the number of pitches up in the zone he did against Arizona hitters was going to lead to extra base hits and home runs.
“They were all pitches that were up,” he said. “Regardless of the park, I pitched up in the strike zone way too much today. Our bullpen really could have used some time and you feel like just let them down.”
Indeed, for the second straight day, a Mariners starter failed to make it to the sixth inning. On Tuesday, Erasmo Ramirez lasted just four innings and manager Eric Wedge was forced to use six relievers in an extra inning win.
Vargas didn’t make it much further than Ramirez. He was knocked out of the game with one out in the fifth inning, having just given up an RBI Single to Miguel Montero, which was one of the softer run scoring hits he allowed in the outing.
“He had an off day,” Wedge said. “He wasn’t commanding the ball and he was working behind quite a bit.”
Vargas gave up a season-high 10 runs on nine hits, including five home runs. Of the 104 pitches, he threw just 55 were strikes.
He gave up solo homers to Aaron Hill and Jason Kubel in the first inning. But the Mariners’ potent road offense came to Vargas’ aid, scoring five runs in the third inning off of Arizona starter Trevor Cahill. John Jaso ripped an RBI double, Casper Wells followed with a two-run single and Kyle Seager punctuated the rally with his 10th homer – a two-run shot deep into right.
“The offense is encouraging, the fight is encouraging,” Wedge said.
But it didn’t matter.
After holding the Diamondbacks scoreless in the second and third, he served up a two-run homer to Miguel Montero and a solo homer to John McDonald in the fourth inning, erasing the three-run lead.
Things fell apart completely in the fifth.
Chris Young led off with a lead-off double and Vargas pitched around Hill, who had been wearing the Mariners pitching out all weekend, with a walk. But the move backfired as Justin Upton crushed a pitch into the upper.
Vargas gave up three more hits and a run before exiting the game. Reliever Shawn Kelley came in to try and stop the rally, but couldn’t. Giving up an RBI single to Ryan Roberts and an RBI double to McDonald – all runs were charged to Vargas.
It was the fourth straight outing where Vargas has given up at least four runs and nine hits.
“I’ve said it the last few starts, but an adjustment has to be made,” Vargas said. “I know I said that before, but you can keep going out there – regardless if those are the only runs you give up – you can’t give up home runs like that.”
It’s a simple adjustment.
“It’s not some hidden secret, it’s getting the ball down in the strike zone and finishing guys off when you have the opportunity,” Vargas said.
Down 10-6, Seattle scratched across a run in the sixth on Dustin Ackley’s ground ball that scored Seager.
Arizona didn’t just answer with a run, but four runs in the bottom of the sixth. Montero ripped a two-run single off of Lucas Luetge. Then Roberts ripped a low liner past a diving Michael Saunders in center. The ball rolled all the way to the wall allowing Roberts to circle the bases and score for a two-run inside the park home run.
The Mariners made things mildly interesting by scoring four runs in the eighth inning off of Diamondbacks reliever Mike Zagurski to cut the lead to 14-10.
The big hit was a three-run pinch hit home from Franklin Gutierrez.
“There was a lot of encouraging signs offensively,” Wedge said. “It was good to see (Gutierrez) really hit one the way he did. We had some strong at-bats. Even some of our outs were good at-bats.”
The Mariners get a much-needed off day to rest their fatigued bullpen and regroup, before opening up a three-game series against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. The Padres swept the Mariners a week ago at Safeco Field.
“Hopefully, the off day gets us back on track,” Wedge said.