Mariners Insider Blog

D'Backs 14, Mariners 10 -- Homers and runs a plenty

From my game story that's already posted on the TNT website (Thanks guys!) ...

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.”

Right now, Vargas has absolutely no trade value. There was some thought that maybe the Mariners could deal him before the trade deadline. Even though Vargas is going to be under club control next season, he could be relatively expensive. He is making $ 4.8 million this year. There was some thought you might be able to get decent prospect from a pitching desperate team.

But not now.

His road splits make that impossible. He's given up 16 homers on the road vs. just four at Safeco. He's walked almost twice as many batters on the road (he's forced to pitch defensively). And this isn't some new development.

While we lament what Safeco does to hitters, it certainly aids pitchers like Vargas who have fair to average stuff and give up fly balls.  A Red Sox scout said that Vargas would get eaten alive in AL East. And his performance in Arizona did little to change that notion. Six homers?

That being said, Vargas isn’t terrible. He just walks a very line with elevation of his pitchers. If they are an inch or two up in the strikezone, he will get hit and hit hard. We saw that today.

Felix Hernandez or even relievers with mid 90s fastballs or good movement can get away with mistakes a little easier than Vargas.

Vargas talked about making an adjustment and it’s not a huge one -- Just keep the ball down.  It’s a little unfair basically slotting him as a No. 2 guy in a rotation. He’s more of a four or five guy.

As for the offense, it’s good to see. Kyle Seager is on pace for more than 20 homers and 100 RBI, raise your hand if you saw that. Casper Wells has looked much better at the plate. When you have the high step to initiate your swing, it can lead to issues with timing. For as much as can go wrong with a swing in the upper body, having good balance in the lower half needs to start first. Wells has talked about getting that timing down with his front foot. We are seeing that. I also think being sent down to Triple A was also a bit of a wake-up call for him. He’s said he’s changed his mindset since being back.

The home run from Gutierrez was definitely a high point. But what will be important is to see if he can stay healthy and produce for the next month and a half.

This year I’ve seen a no-hitter involving six pitchers, a cycle and an inside the park home run. Not bad.