BY Todd Dybas 11:11PM 04/18/2011

Mariners receive no relief against Tigers

Vargas pitches tough once again, but his bullpen mates are devoured by Detroit.

There was no refinement for middle relief during the teamwide workout prior to Monday’s Mariners game against the Tigers.

The wobbling Mariners practiced cutoff throws, covering first base, situational signals. But nothing that helped the middle relievers who were pummeled hours later.

The Mariners lost 8-3 to Detroit in a mostly vacated and cool Safeco Field Monday night. Relievers Josh Lueke and Chris Ray spent the seventh inning assuring that, leaving starter Jason Vargas in the lurch once again.

The top of the second was extensive for Vargas. Three of the 34 pitches he made in the inning were contacted for singles. He teetered, but shuffled off after allowing just a run. His pitch count zoomed to 46 by the end of the first two innings. A Milton Bradley two-run homer supplied Vargas a 2-1 lead an inning later.

Detroit squared the game at two in the sixth inning when Bradley had a liner into the left field corner from Brennan Boesch squirt through. That allowed lumbering Miguel Cabrera to chug home from first base. Vargas eventually won a 12-pitch at-bat with Alex Avila to end the inning.

“It felt like 25,” Vargas said. “That could have been a turning point for them. It was something that I felt like that hitter … it didn’t to go any further than that.”

That capped Vargas’ night at 114 pitches. Vargas threw six innings, allowed two earned runs, walked two and struck out four. He’s allowed two runs or less in three of his four outings, yet his record is stagnant at 0-1. The bullpen has been of little help to him. The Seattle bats have been less.

“It’s something that’s out of our control,” Vargas said of the pitchers assessing the hitting woes. “For us to try to sit here and understand what the hitters are going through, it’s just not possible. They can’t understand it when we’re not doing well, we’re not feeling good and not throwing strikes and getting hit.”

Relief was a misnomer for the pitchers that followed Vargas in the seventh. Lueke stumbled through ? of an inning and allowed four earned runs, displaying control and velocity problems. Throwing only around 92 mph, well below his 96 or 97 displayed last season, Lueke walked a batter and threw a wild pitch in addition to three hits allowed.

Ray relieved him and ramped up the lack of execution. Ray walked two, Boesch intentionally to load the bases, before Jhonny Peralta smashed a triple over the head of Ryan Langerhans in center field. Three runs scored. The lead swelled to 8-2.

“Seventh inning got ugly,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “Lueke and Ray just didn’t have it today.”

Bradley and Justin Smoak homered for the Mariners. Each hit his second. Bradley’s soared to right center, Smoak’s was a rocket to left center in the eighth inning.

“It happened to get out,” Smoak said. “Still don’t feel great up at the plate. Would like to feel a lot better.”

The only other activity of note Monday was the foul ball from Ryan Raburn that hit the Safeco Field roof. Raburn’s second-inning loft hit one the roof supports. It bounced back down to the field and dropped between Chone Figgins and Miguel Olivo. Had either caught it, Raburn would have been out. That was the first ball to hit the roof in Safeco history.

Few fans saw any of it thanks to another ignominious attendance number Monday night, just 12,774. That was just north of the disappointment of 12,407 which set an all-time low at Safeco last Wednesday. But that was a day game.

Doug Fister (0-3, 3.86 ERA) will face Phil Coke (1-2, 2.25 ERA) Tuesday night at 7:10 at Safeco for the 5-12 Mariners. Plenty of goods seats still available.


  • Lucky Infidel

    Yes, I was out there tonight. Actually, once again, thoroughly enjoyed myself. Just myself tonight. Plenty of elbow room on a nice crisp night. Closest thing to autumn-type baseball this town will see anytime soon. Was kind of interesting until the 7th. After that I got into a conversation with one of the ushers about what I felt was the increased presence of alcohol-control people this year. The usher told me that Chuck Armstrong’s motto to his usher staff is to pretend that there always is a seven-year girl who sensibilities you are trying to protect. Then I looked out at the field and saw Milton Bradley out of the corner of my eye as I was watching Josh Lueke exit the field.

  • Tim

    @Todd – Why on earth did they have Lueke and Ray come in when they are doing so poorly instead of Wright, who you guys have mentioned is doing well enough to be considered our new setup man?

  • I am watching Fister pitch a great game tonight. I also figured out who they have to fire. The pitching coach. Fister has yet to pitch successfuly past the 6th inning. One might then suspect that having a guy in the bull pen warmed up would not be alarmist. Sure enough, he hits 100 pitches with nobody warming up in the bullpen. He the got into trouble in the 7th. WTF were they thinking? Isn’t that why we have middle men? Forget trading Ichiro. First, the NJpaanese owners wouldn’t allow it. One wonders though, that if the American corporate officers were to say to the Japanese owner, “Hey, we are losing face, whether it would make a difference. Anticpation is the name of the game.

  • Ken

    Thanks, Art—you just outdid yourself. Terrific writing, witty, biting, and insightful. Don’t share, however, your harsh views of Holmgren–can’t you see the halo over his head!