Pitcher Jason Vargas — who was the subject of trade rumors — was 5-0 with a 1.64 ERA in July.
This was a day of celebrations for Jason Vargas before and after winning his fifth consecutive start.
Vargas got to celebrate quietly and inwardly as Tuesday’s trade deadline came and went without his being dealt by the Mariners. And then, after beating the Toronto Blue Jays, 7-2, later that night, Vargas and teammates threw a celebratory beer and ketchup shower for Brendan Ryan after his batting average finally crept over the .200 “Mendoza” line.
Winning six in a row will make teams eager to celebrate the small stuff. And for Vargas, getting to stay in a place he’s outwardly called “home” with greater frequency is cause for celebration.
“We’ve been playing really well and I think, with most of the pieces still in place, it shows a lot of confidence in what we’re trying to do,” Vargas said. “To be a part of that is great for me.”
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Vargas went 5-0 with a 1.64 earned-run average in July and has a strong bid in place for his first American League Pitcher of the Month honors. More than that, his 12-7 record and 3.71 earned-run average overall, combined with an innings clip on pace for well over 200, could help him double his $4.8 million salary in arbitration this winter.
The Mariners would likely want to head that off by inking Vargas to a multiyear pact for less annual money.
“It’s definitely better to not have them get rid of you,” Vargas said. “To keep you here means they want you more than what was offered. So, I’m happy.”
A crowd of 21,434 at Safeco Field saw the Mariners once again put it to an opposing starter the first two innings. Dustin Ackley hit a home run on the very first pitch thrown by onetime Mariners hurler Aaron Laffey and it was 4-0 by the time the second frame was done.
“I’m always looking to hit the first pitch of the game,” Ackley said. “I usually think that’s going to be a fastball and they’re trying to get ahead.”
Trayvon Robinson and Miguel Olivo both added two hits and each had a double. Olivo’s two-run single in the fifth off relief pitcher Brandon Lyon closed out the night’s scoring and pushed Seattle into positive run differential territory for the season at +1.
“I feel like we get that momentum and we just carry it throughout the game,” Ackley said. “When our pitchers are out there comfortable and confident, I think that helps everybody.”
Vargas gave up a two-run double to Brett Lawrie in the third that cut Seattle’s lead to 4-2. But he retired 11 of the next 12 and allowed just two more hits before leaving after seven frames.
The Mariners cruised from there and were waiting for Ryan in the clubhouse afterward, beer and ketchup in hand. Ryan finished the night with three hits to take his average to .205 — the first time he’s been above .200 since April 21.
“I’m still trying to get ketchup out of my ears,” Ryan said. “But yeah, good times. I didn’t want to rain on the parade or anything. It could always dip right back down.”
For now, Ryan and his celebratory-minded teammates remain up. They’ve won nine of 11 in their hottest stretch of the season.
“We’re just excited,” Vargas said. “We’re winning games and not just winning them by one run.”