Jason Vargas pitched his first career shutout, a four hitter against Tampa Bay Friday night. The 7-0 win put the M’s three games above .500 at 30-27.
Vargas was not the only story. The Mariners who hit 29 home runs in 55 games have hit seven in the last two nights. Justin Smoak hit his tenth and Adam Kennedy and Miguel Olivo went back to back.
The Mariners are 22-12 in their last 34 games thanks to great starting pitching and a sterling bullpen nicely managed by Eric Wedge.
Only 24, 292 showed up on a Friday night to see one of the hottest teams in baseball. Northwest baseball fans still are having a tough time believing these guys are for real.
Admittedly I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. A winning Mariner team is rare in Seattle. Take out the Lou Pinella managed years and the Mariners are the poster child for mediocre baseball.
What has gotten lost in this turn around of the M’s is the hitting of Ichiro. The All-Star leadoff hitter is batting .266 and is 5 for his last 42, a .119 average. The inevitable question arises is his age. He will be 38 in October, but he keeps himself in great shape, so what is the problem?
If he gets hot, then it was a slump. If he doesn’t, then the age question will be asked of every baseball talking head on TV and newspapers.
The other day I noticed Greg Halman came off the DL in Tacoma. He had fractured his hand earlier this year and was limited to 35 at bats. I thought he might get some playing time and if he did well get a call up for the slumping Michael Saunders. But the M’s wasted no time and made the move. Saunders was hitting .108 since May 1 (7-65) and will join Langerhans in Tacoma with whom he can share his hitting woes.
Sail on Mariners!