Jason Vargas continued to make the month of May his personal playground tonight, throwing seven shutout innings against the Los Angeles Angels in what became a 3-0 victory for the Seattle Mariners.
“He was about as consistent start to finish as you can ask a starting pitcher to be,” manager Eric Wedge said. “He didn’t fluctuate at all. He was in the zone all night long, expanded it when he needed to, pitched ahead.”
Vargas matched his career high with nine strikeouts, and allowed four hits - all singles. The closest he came to allowing a run was in the first inning, when his own throwing error and a sacrifice bunt put Erik Aybar at third base with one out.
Vargas has now allowed one run in his last 23 2/3 innings – a 0.38 ERA - covering his three May starts. That stretch of pitching has chopped his 2011 ERA from 5.45 to 3.39.
Offensively, Vargas got the support Felix Hernandez didn't get a night earlier in a 2-1 loss, and it came from cleanup and designated hitter Jack Cust, who had two hits and a pair of RBI, and from Justin Smoak, who had an RBI double.
For Cust, knowing the opposing pitcher as well as he did in this one was one point in his favor.
“I've faced Jered a lot, and with men on base he throws a lot of off-speed pitches, so i looked for it,” Cust said. “That's the way he's attacked me in the past.”
And what happened?
“The first at-bat, he got a pitch in on me but I was able to muscle it over the infield,” he said. “The second at-bat, I was sitting on a change up and got it, and got another run home.”
The win inched the 18-24 Mariners to within three games of the Angels and third place in the American League West.