Reliable, competitive Vargas finishes season with a flourish

MARINERS NOTEBOOK: Pitching effectively after All-Star break key to career year

larry.larue@thenewstribune.comSeptember 30, 2012 

OAKLAND – Jason Vargas left his 33rd start of the season after allowing one run in seven strong innings Saturday and wound up with a no-decision – his sixth in a year in which he finished 14-11.

The Seattle Mariners’ left-hander pitched a career-high 217 innings.

“I feel like I gave the team the opportunity to win most times I pitched, including today,” Vargas said. “There were a couple hiccups, but I didn’t let many games get out of hand.”

Starting 17 times following a Seattle loss, Vargas went 10-4 with a 2.87 earned-run average in those games.

“I’m just so proud of the way he’s pitched all year long, in particular the way he’s finished this year. He easily could have had 17-18 wins,” manager Eric Wedge said.

“I love the way he finished it off today and how he pitched, how he competed. He put together a complete season and really came into his own this year.”

In his three full seasons in the Mariners rotation, Vargas has gone 9-12, 10-13 and now 14-11.

“I took my first half into my second half this year, that’s something I’d had trouble with before,” Vargas said. “I feel like I pitched well after the All-Star break. I learned a lot.”

DEFENSIVE SLUMP

Wedge has accepted the kind of team he has offensively, with the belief it’s improved and will continue to do so.

Defense? His expectations are higher – and he hasn’t liked what he’s seen from his team this month.

Tired, maybe?

“I don’t think it’s a matter of being tired, I think we have to battle mental letdowns,” Wedge said. “The last couple of weeks, I haven’t been pleased with our defense. You’ve got to count on what you count on, and that’s pitching and defense for us.”

Shortstop Brendan Ryan has struggled in the field this month, and Saturday started the game on the bench while rookie Carlos Triunfel took the field.

Beyond that, Wedge went with what he considers his best outfield – Michael Saunders in left field, Franklin Gutierrez in center and Casper Wells in right field.

ERASMO’S NO SCHMO

Wonder what the future of Erasmo Ramirez is with Seattle?

“No guarantees for anyone,” Wedge said, “but Erasmo has made an impression on all of us. It should give him confidence, the way he’s pitched up here.

“He’s had to fight some adversity this year and he’s dealt with it. I hope his last start (today) he does what we’ve seen him do all season.

“You look at his arsenal of pitches, he’s ready to be a big-league pitcher. It’s only a matter of in what role.”

SHORT HOPS

With four games remaining, Saunders, Kyle Seager and Justin Smoak are tied for the Mariners’ home run lead with 19 – a career-high for each. … Seattle has hit at least one home run in each of the past 18 games, and yes, that’s unusual. Only the 1999 team had a longer streak (19 games).

ON TAP

Seattle plays Oakland in a 1:07 p.m. game today that will be televised on Root Sports and broadcast on 770-AM. Probable starting pitchers: Ramirez (1-3, 3.42 ERA) vs. Tommy Millone (13-10, 3.74).

larry.larue@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @LarryLaRue

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