Well, time to wake up after the first seven-plus meaningless innings of this game. Dan Cortes just suffered his first blown save, entering with two on, one out and a 5-2 lead. He promptly threw nine straight balls, walked in a run, allowed an RBI single to Julio Borbon and then wild-pitched the tying marker in from third.
The good news? Well, with runners on second and third and one out, he got Ian Kinsler to pop out and Michael Young to fly out to center. Which would be great, except I’ve got a plane to catch and have to be out of this ballpark in an hour or so.
We head to the ninth, tied up 5-5.
12:38 p.m.: Franklin Gutierrez hit a two-run double in the fifth inning to give the Mariners and Jason Vargas a 4-1 lead. Ichiro and Chone Figgins led the inning off with singles before Figgins doubled to right field to end a tough afternoon for Rich Harden. Derek Holland is now on the mound for the Rangers, who have given it less than their all this series both in terms of the lineup they’ve put out there and the execution of plays.
For their sake, I hope they get it together in time for the post-season. Then again, they’ll certainly have better players out there than some of these spring training lineups we’ve seen the last two days.
Jason Vargas caps off what’s been a stellar season for him. While many of Vargas’s peripheral numbers are the same, he’s managed to do it this season while doubling his major league innings totals over 2009. There are a minimal number of innings any big league starter has to throw to be considered a rotation mainstay.
Usually, getting up over 150 innings does the trick.
Vargas began today’s game at 186 2/3 innings and counting. That hefty total explains why his numbers have declined somewhat (strikeouts down, walks, homers and opposition batting averages up) as his season wears on and his arm feels the effects. It’s like we keep telling you with Felix Hernandez and Clay Buchholz in the Cy Young Award race. You just can’t give the award to a guy who’s thrown 70+ innings fewer than Hernandez because those added frames will likely wear down a pitcher’s stats.
Same with Vargas. There is no comparison between a guy putting up numbers over 91 2/3 innings — as Vargas did last year — versus the 190+ he should finish with this season. Big league scouts, coaches and front office types recognize the difference, which is why Vargas rates as one of this team’s most positive developments in 2010.
11:21 a.m.: Seattle attempts to pull off its first sweep in this ballpark (three or more games) since the 2001 season. They should get to face former teammate Mark Lowe at some point today. Lowe was activated off the DL this morning for the first time since his trade to Texas in the Cliff Lee swap.
Another guy acquired in the Lee trade, Justin Smoak, just blasted his third home run in three games here at his former ballpark to give the Mariners a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Smoak unloaded on the pitch from Rich Harden and sent it 412 feet over the center field fence.