Aaron Rowand, CF
Edgar Renteria, SS
Pablo Sandoval, DH
Bengie Molina, C
Randy Winn, RF
Jesus Guzman, 1B
Juan Uribe, 3B
Fred Lewis, LF
Kevin Frandsen, 2B
Matt Cain, P
Endy Chavez, LF
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Ken Griffey, Jr.
Russell Branyan, 1B
Jose Lopez, 2B
Kenji Johjima, C
Ronny Cedeno, SS
Franklin Gutierrez, CF
Garrett Olson, P
One man’s pothole is another’s opportunity, and right now, Jason Vargas is taking advantage of his.
Vargas turned in a seven-inning, two-hit outing Friday night against the Giants, further suggesting that the Mariners may have something more than a stopgap pitcher.
It was Vargas’ third straight respectable start since being recalled from Tacoma May 2 when reliever Roy Corcoran went on the disabled list.
“I wouldn’t say anything’s in concrete,” said the lefthanded Vargas. “You still gotta go out there and pitch every five days and produce. I don’t think three starts is going to win you a job anywhere.”
But it at least gives fuel to the notion that even if the M’s had a healthy complement of starting pitchers — they don’t, with Ryan Rowland-Smith due to come back shortly from triceps tendinitis and Carlos Silva dealing with shoulder problems – Vargas ought to be among their starting five.
“He’s pitched great,” said manager Don Wakamatsu. “You don’t know what’s going to happen in the future . . . we’ll just keep going. Right now, he’s still in there.”
Saturday night, the M’s had to fall back on Garrett Olson because of a minor leg problem with Jarrod Washburn. Earlier, Erik Bedard missed a start with a bad hamstring.
“The plus is, just to be able to find out about guys [like Vargas],” said Wakamatsu. “With some injuries, it’s a blessing when you can watch Vargas have three good outings.”
Vargas gave the M’s five innings of one-run ball in a difficult ballpark at Texas May 12, and got them into the sixth inning last Sunday against Boston, allowing two runs. He has a 1-0 record and a nifty 1.29 ERA.
“It feels nice,” said Vargas. “It feels like my preparation has gotten a whole lot better. The biggest change for me is just being able to understand scouting reports, understand swings better, and learning how to make adjustments through lineups.”
Vargas entered the season with a career 6-8 record and 5.81 ERA, having started with Florida, moving to the Mets before the 2007 season and then being shipped to Seattle in the three-team deal that sent J.J. Putz to New York.
He admits he didn’t watch tape of hitters much earlier in his career and didn’t always apply it well on the mound. That’s changed, obviously, and so might his importance to the club.
And What’s More . . .
Silva will stay behind on the six-game road trip to Oakland and Anaheim, doing cardio work and strength and flexibility exercises for an injury Wakamatsu says doesn’t appear to require surgery. He had no time frame on a possible return.
The M’s are due to face three straight lefthanders in the Giants’ Barry Zito and Oakland’s Brett Anderson and Dallas Braden. Their .694 percentage (9-4) against lefty starters is best in the AL.
Russell Branyan has walked at least twice in three straight games, the first Mariner to do that since Edgar Martinez set the club record with five Sept. 15-19, 2002.
Adrian Beltre was in the No. 3 hole after three straight games of being the No. 2 hitter, including the previous two nights when he had two hits apiece.
OK, what were you doing on Aug. 11, 1996? Ken Griffey was hitting cleanup for the M’s — the last time before tonight he’s been in the No. 4 hole with Seattle. He hadn’t yet hit cleanup for the M’s this season in his return.
Early in his career, he said openly he liked the No. 3 hole best and didn’t seem to care for the cleanup spot. Of course, with hitters like Jay Buhner and Edgar Martinez on those teams, there were ready options.
Junior hit cleanup many times in Cincinnati, the last of those in 2007.
Game-time temperature, 63 degrees, winds out of the north at 8 mph
7:25 p.m. — Thought the M’s were going to sneak in a run on Russell Branyan’s dunker toward center with Beltre and Griffey aboard, but Aaron Rowand found the ball, finally, and ran it down. Branyan, by the way, is hitting .311 against lefthanders and .307 against righties (Matt Cain is a righty, by the way). Branyan has the fifth-best batting average by a lefty against lefties in the league.
7:45 p.m. — Both pitchers look sharp, and neither lineup looks to be threatening double-digit runs tonight. Entering the last of the third, game scoreless, the M’s have scored only three runs in the last three-plus games.
7:50 p.m. — Ichiro extends his hitting streak to 17 games and after a nice sac bunt by Endy Chavez, Beltre’s grounder scores Gutierrez with the first run of the game. Gutierrez had led off the inning with a single to center.
8:15 p.m. — So far, this isn’t the Garrett Olson of the 0-1 record and 5.27 in 2009. He escaped a two-out, two-on jam by inducing Rowand to hit into a force at third, and the M’s hold a 1-0 lead in the middle of the fifth.
8:25 p.m. — Update on Ryan Rowland-Smith’s rehab start in Tacoma against Memphis: He threw 49 pitches, four innings, allowed four hits, a run and struck out one.
9:19 p.m. — Wonder if there’s ever been a weirder first major-hit than there was for the Giants’ first baseman, Jesus Guzman? He hit a smash to Adrian Beltre, who tried to force Randy Winn at second, but the throw was late. The original ruling was a fielder’s choice, then changed to a hit about 10 minutes later.
9:40 p.m. — This one’s pretty much out of reach after Mark Lowe’s disastrous eighth-inning relief outing. He came in with five straight scoreless outings, but after getting the first two hitters in the eighth, allowed six straight Giants to reach base. The big blows were Juan Uribe’s three-run double and Fred Lewis’ two-run homer.
9:52 p.m. — All done, Giants a winner, 5-1. Matt Cain was pretty tough, scattering 10 hits, and the Mariner bullpen, in the form of Mark Lowe, wasn’t.