Eric Wedge returned to the dugout Friday in time to see his Mariners fall to the Angels 2-0. Ex-teammate Jason Vargas, who missed seven weeks, is back in town for the Angels.
GAME: Angels (55-70, 4th, AL West, -17.5 GB) at Mariners (58-67, 3rd, AL West, -14.5.0 GB). GAME #: 128. SERIES: 2nd of 3 games. MEETING: 15th (series tied 7-7). WHEN: Saturday, 6:10 p.m., Safeco Field. STREAKS: Mariners L 1; Angels W 1. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network
It’s not often the Mariners get the better of a trade, but they certainly came out a winner — so far — in the Dec. 19, 2012 Jason Vargas-for-Kendrys Morales swap. Vargas, Seattle’s No. 2 starter last year, went 14-11 and was dispatched to the Angels because the Mariners had an overriding need for a bat in the middle of that order. Morales has provided that.
Morales is the club’s leading hitter (.286), first in RBIs (67) and multi-hit games (37), is second in runs (52), on-base percentage (.342) and extra-base hits (46), and third in home runs (17). All of his offensive numbers are either better, or project to be better, than they were with the Angels last year.
Batting .302 (37×122) since the All-Star break, Morales has provided the Mariners exactly the boost they bargained on, Friday night’s 2-0 loss in Eric Wedge’s return notwithstanding. Vargas hasn’t reciprocated on behalf of the Angels. He’s made only 16 starts because he sat out seven with a blood clot in his armpit, which was surgically removed June 26.
When he has pitched, Vargas has managed a 6-5 record, but his ERA is up over last year and so is his WHIP (1.41). Vargas will be a free agent this winter and has only a handful of starts remaining to demonstrate he’s worthy of the types of deals — roughly $50 million over four years — pitchers of his caliber and experience have typically received in recent years.
Saturday, he’s opposite Erasmo Ramirez, who has pitched himself into the Mariners rotation plans for next year with four consecutive victories and a winnable no-decision in his last start.Ramirez has lowered his ERA from 13.50 to 5.94.
MARINERS: RHP Erasmo Ramirez (4-0, 5.94 ERA, 1.34 WHIP)
The 23-year-old Ramirez, a Nicaragua native in his second major league season, both with Seattle, will make his seventh start and first against the Angels. Ramirez joined Seattle’s rotation July 11 and was shelled by the Red Sox, but since then won all four of his decisions. He had a fifth consecutive win in his sights in his last start at Texas Aug. 18, but came away with a no-decision.
ANGELS: LHP Jason Vargas (6-5, 3.92 ERA, 1.41 WHIP)
The 30-year-old Vargas, in his eighth major league season and first with the Angels, will make his 17th start and third against the Mariners, his former team (2009-12). Vargas has made two starts since being activated from the DL, and although his stamina has been there, the results haven’t as the lefty has allowed seven runs in 9.2 innings.
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
|8/24||Sat||vs. LAA||RHP Erasmo Ramirez (4-0) vs. LHP Jason Vargas (6-5)|
|8/25||Sun||vs. LAA||RHP Aaron Harang (5-10) vs. RHP Jered Weaver (7-7)|
|8/26||Mon||vs. Tex||LHP Joe Saunders (10-12) vs. LHP Travis Blackley (1-1)|
|8/27||Tue||vs. Tex||RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (12-6) vs. LHP Derek Holland (9-6)|
|8/28||Wed||vs. Tex||RHP Felix Hernandez (12-7) vs. LHP Martin Perez (7-3)|