Vargas finishes strong
By Shannon Drayer
For the better part of Saturday afternoon it appeared that Jason Vargas would finish a second straight strong season with a W. Having pitched 7 innings of 1 run 0 walk 7 strikeout ball he certainly deserved it but after what you could call a bullpen meltdown or Oakland heroic finish (you call it) Vargas ends his season with a ND and a 14-11 record.
Win/loss records tend to mean more to the pitcher than anyone else, it is hardly a good measure of a pitcher. It would have been nice for Vargas to have a 15 in the win column. Regardless, it is a season he can be proud of. His skipper is.
“I’m just so proud of the way he’s pitched all year long and finished this season,” Eric Wedge said after the game. “He easily could have 17-18 wins, but he still ended with a tremendous year and great numbers. I love the way he finished it up today, and how he pitched and the way he competed. He put together a complete season, and really came into his own this year.”
Vargas threw 217 1/3 innings eclipsing the 200 mark for the second straight year. He said this was important to him as his main goal was to be someone who could keep his team in the game and that his teammates could rely on. As for what he was most satisfied with on a performance level this year he said that putting the second half woes that plagued him in his first three years in the organization behind him was big.
“Being able to take the first half into the second half had been a struggle for me and to do as well as I did after the break, that is awesome for me,” he said. “It’s a big step. That and being able to limit the games where I let them get out of control.”
Those were few and far between and Saturday was certainly not one of them. Vargas was in control for seven innings. Then the bullpen came in.
Eric Wedge went to Tom Wilhelmsen for extra outs in the eighth. With runners one first and second, one out and up by three Wilhelmsen got out of the inning giving up just one run. The ninth didn’t go so smoothly. Josh Donaldson took him deep to tie it up and all of a sudden things didn’t look good for the Mariners. Going up against the comeback Kings of the year which just so happened to be the team that has hit the most home runs in baseball in the second half (106, they hit 114 in all of 2011) with his closer out of the game Wedge was left with a tired pen.
Not tired because they had pitched too much this week but tired from a near full season. Lucas Luetge and Stephen Pryor in particular have shown signs of tiring in the second half. Wedge went to Pryor for a second straight game. Five pitches later the A’s were celebrating. Pryor threw 5 pitches with just one over 93 mph. He threw a first pitch 92 mph fastball to Brandon Moss that was hit over the wall to give the A’s the win. That was all she wrote.
The pen has struggled of late with many of the relievers posting second half numbers that are much higher than what we saw in the first half. They are learning what a full season feels like and no doubt will tailor their off season routines to get them ready for the same next year and hopefully be better for the experience.
The bullpen however isn’t the only guilty party in today’s loss. 0 x 7 with RISP and 11 left on. Two more home runs today but obviously it is not enough for the Mariners. The A’s maybe, but not the Mariners.
News and notes…
Michael Saunders and Kyle Seager both hit their 19th home runs of the season. With Justin Smoak sitting on 19 as well it looks like the Mariners will have their first 20 home run player or players since 2009…Another home run from Saunders would make him the first 20/20 (hr/stolen bases) Mariner since Mike Cameron in 2002…Final King’s Court will be Monday at Safeco Field. Felix scheduled to pitch that day with Iwakuma going Tuesday and Beavan closing the season out Wednesday…