By Brent Stecker
Just a day after former Mariner Jason Vargas used finesse to baffle the Seattle hitters in a 6-1 Royals win, the Mariners will face one of the hardest throwers in the majors in Yordano Ventura.
Ventura is no stranger to touching three digits on the radar gun, which is about as far from Vargas as a pitcher can get. Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon didn’t put a lot of stock into Ventura’s speed, though.
“From the old school, it really doesn’t make a difference how hard you throw, it’s the quality of the strikes,” he said. “Everybody gets excited about a guy throwing 100 mph, but if it’s down the middle of the plate it really doesn’t make a difference. The ability to command the strike zone and make quality pitches will probably come into play tonight.”
That’s exactly what Vargas did on Friday night to hold Seattle scoreless over seven innings of three-hit ball.
“I think (Vargas) had the ability to throw his secondary stuff behind in the count. Anybody pitcher that’s capable of doing that is going to be successful in this league,” McClendon said.
Jones gets shot at leadoff
Center fielder James Jones will get his first start in the leadoff spot in his young MLB career. Michael Saunders, who has been getting most of the recent starts in the No. 1 position, is batting eighth and playing right field.
Jones is hitting .455 (5 for 11) with a double and two runs scored in seven games since being called up from Triple-A Tacoma last week.
“He’s a prototypical-type leadoff guy. Give him his chance and see what he can do,” McClendon said.
Seager still recovering
Willie Bloomquist is in the starting lineup at third base for the second day in a row, as regular starter Kyle Seager remains out with flu-like symptoms.
“He was pretty sick last night so we’re holding him out,” McClendon said.
McClendon added that Seager is at the ballpark.