The major highlight of the day was that the Mariners drafted Mike Zunino, catcher from the University of Florida, with the third overall pick in the MLB Draft. You can ready mine and Casey’s thoughts on the pick here. Round 2 kicks off tomorrow and the Mariners first pick is at 64. There was still a baseball game to be played today though.
Jason Vargas took the mound today against Ervin Santana in the series opener. Vargas has put together a few good starts in a row and he kept it up. Coming into the game, he three consecutive quality starts in a row and a 3.64 ERA. Today Vargas got touched early in the first but settled down after. Mike Trout opened up the inning with a double and Maicer Izturis hit him over to third on a base hit. Pujols knocked Trout in on a sacrifice fly but that was all the damage Vargas would give up in the first. Vargas was touched again in the 4th when giving up a solo shot to Kendrys Morales.
More damage came in the 6th when Vargas gave up two runs. Vargas gave up another solo homerun to Morales. Tori Hunter followed that up with a base hit. Vargas recovered by striking out back to back batters but then walked John Hester and that was it for the Vargas on the day. He went 5.2IP 9H 4ER 2BB and 8K. It was nice to see the jump in strikeouts for Vargas. He got a good amount of swinging strikes compared to normal. He has lowered his ERA to 3.64 and his K/9 went from 5.74 to 6.21 after tonight’s start. The secondary pitches were really working for him tonight
Brandon League entered the game in the 6th to relieve Vargas and did not start things off well after giving up a base hit to Mike Trout scoring one run. League came back on to pitch the 7th and did not get into any trouble. Shawn Kelley relieved League in the 8th and Kelley got into some trouble. He struck out Howie Kendrick but the ball got away and Kendrick reached 1st. He walked Aybar and then gave up a base hit to Hester loading up the bases with zero outs. Trout scored Kendrick on a sac fly and Izturis follwed up with an RBI Double. Tom Wilhelmsen relieved Kelley and he came up big as he got the out at the plate and then struck out Mark Trumbo for the final out of the inning. Wilhelmsen came in and shut the door in the 9th, earning his first career save. I think we will see Wilhelmsen in a lot more of these situations moving forward.
The offense showed up today and Kyle Seager opened things up with his 7th homerun on the year in the 1st. I would also like to note that Kyle’s brother Corey, was drafted 18th overall today by the Dodgers. The Mariners struck again in the 3rd getting two runs in the inning. Ackley, Seager, and Smoak picked up back to back to back walks and John Jaso came up big with the RBI base hit. Mike Carp scored Seager on the fielders choice but Olivo popped out to second to end the inning.
The big rally came in the fourth for the Mariners as the posted a 4 spot, all with two outs. John Jaso led the inning off with a base hit and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Carp was intentionally walked and Olivo followed up with an RBI base hit scoring Jaso. Michael Saunders then walked and loaded the bases. Kawasaki came up big earning his fast extra base hit, picking up a two RBI double. The Mariners scored one more run in the 7th after Olivo doubled and Saunders followed up with a double, bringing Olivo in.
The offense posted 10 hits today but also a very impressive 8 walks. It has been great to see the young guys taking more pitches and earning more walks. Jaso had a big day going 3-5 and was the top Mariners contributor at the plate today. Olivo and Kawasaki each picked up 2 hits today and Saunders, Smoak, and Seager (the homerun) all picked up a hit. The young guys are really heating up at the plate and Mariners fans have to be loving that. The Mariners will look to take game two tomorrow of the series and creep closer towards the .500 mark.