Yes, the Mariners hit three more home runs tonight. Yes, the Mariners hit seven home runs in two games. It's something that they haven't done at Safeco since August 27-28 of 2004.
But the really story was Jason Vargas, who threw his first shutout of his career.
Because in terms of the Mariners' future success, it's more important to have Vargas throwing well. The likelihood of Seattle becoming a team that relies on home runs ranks right up there with winning the Power Ball. The home runs were a nice surprise, but this team needs to rely on quality outings from Vargas for when the home runs won't happen, and that will happen.
So was he ecstatic about his first big league shutout? Well, Vargas kind of does postgame interviews like he pitches - business-like with a world class poker face. If you are looking for lots of emotion like Felix Hernandez or Michael Pineda, well you aren't getting that.
“He threw a great ball game,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “I love his temperament. He doesn’t get too high or too low. He understands what he needs to do. I thought he went back and forth with his velocity well. He did a good job with his fastball and cutter and did a good job working his changeup off of that.”
When was his last shutout?
“Oh man, I don’t even remember, maybe in college sometime,” Vargas said. “But yeah, it’s good to get the first run.”
There was no real secret as to how he did it. Vargas’ secret to his success is location, changing speeds and getting ahead. He was able to do all three against the Rays, giving up just four hits and striking out four batters, while walking one.
It’s the same the thing he tried to do in the two previous starts, but he just couldn’t execute. With a pitcher like Vargas, pitches that even a half an inch either way can hurt him.
“He’s interesting,” Wedge said. “Sometimes when you are watching guys pitch and they are good or maybe not so good, there are obvious differences. I don’t’ think Vargas is quite that way. He’s so in tune with his delivery. He’s so consistent with his arm slot and release point and arm direction. When he’s off, it’s just usually just a little bit. But that can make a difference.”
Vargas wasn’t off on this start. He retired nine of the first 10 hitters he faced, and allowed just two hits over the first eight innings, before giving up two hits in the ninth.
TAMPA BAY NOTES:
• The Rays have lost 10 of their last 14 games and 13 of 18 since May 13 when they were a season-high 8 games over .500…still 15-12 on the road and won 10 of their last 17 at Safeco Field.
• Ben Zobrist has recorded a hit in 6 of his last 8 games dating back to 5/28 vs. CLE…over that span Zobrist has a batting average of .243 (8x33) with a home run, 2 doubles, and 2 RBI.
• Zobrist stole his 6th base of the season in the 4th inning, his first since April 29th vs. LAA…Zobrist recorded 5 stolen bases in the month of April, but failed to steal a base in the entire month of May, a span of 29 games.
• Andy Sonnanstine gave up 5 walks and struck out 1 batter against the Mariners tonight…over his previous 5 appearances (4 starts) against Seattle he had given up just 5 walks, and struck out 23 batters…Sonnanstine had also given up only 9 earned runs in 27.1 IP against Seattle prior to giving up 7 ER in 5 IP tonight.
• Sonnanstine gave up 3 home runs for the 5th time in his career (last: 7/10/2008 @CLE)…his career high for home runs in a game is 4, on 6/8/2009 @NYY…Rays pitchers have allowed 3+ home runs in a game 6 times this season (last: last night @SEA; 4).
• Jason Vargas recorded his first career shutout…this is his second career complete game (last: 8/21/05 at LAD w/FLA)…third time he has tossed 9.0 innings (last: 5/12/11 at BAL).
• Jason Vargas tossed 9.0 innings for the second time this season (last: 5/12 at BAL)…it is his third start this season of at least 7.0 shutout innings (9.0, 5/12 at BAL & 7.0, 5/18 vs. LAA).
• Vargas faced 31 batters, just four over the minimum through 9.0 innings…17 of the final 21 batters he faced despite allowing two hits in the ninth inning.
• Seventh time this season that a Mariners starter has tossed at least 7.0 shutout innings (last: M. Pineda, 5/21 at SD).
• Mariners recorded their fourth complete game of season (last: Felix Hernandez, 5/6 vs. CWS)…team recorded their 7th team shutout of the season (last: 5/25 at MIN) and now rank 2nd in the American League in team shutouts (DET, 8).
• The Mariners are 22-12 (.647) since April 26, the best record in the Majors over that span (ARI: 23-14/.621)…were 8-15 and in 4th place (6.5 games back) prior to current 34 game stretch of .647 baseball
• Adam Kennedy and Miguel Olivo had back-to-back home runs in the 5th inning tonight…it is the 2nd time the Mariners have gone back-to-back this season (last: Adam Kennedy and Carlos Peguero 5/17 vs. MIN).
• The Mariners hit four home runs yesterday and three today…last time the Mariners had back-to-back games with 3+ home runs was May 13-14, 2010 at BAL & at TB.
• The Mariners have scored 7+ runs in back-to-back games for the first time since April 26-28 at Detroit.
• The Mariners have hit 7 HR over their last 2 games…the last time Seattle hit 7 home runs in 2 games was 8/27(4)- 8/27/2009(3) @DET…the last time they hit 7 HR in 2 games at Safeco Field was 8/27(6)-8/28/2004(1)
• Justin Smoak has homered in 3 of his last 6 games; including his solo-shot in the 1st inning today...Smoak also has 7 RBI over his last 6 games, including 2 tonight.
• Smoak’s bases loaded walk was the 12th of the season for the Mariners…Smoak leads the team in RBIs with the bases loaded with 6, and Jack Cust leads the team in walks with the bases loaded with 5…the Mariners are batting .250 (9x36) with 12 walks with the bases loaded this season.
• Miguel Olivo has 7 RBI in his last 6 games…in his last 6 games is hitting .320 (8x25) with 2 doubles, and a home run.