By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
SEATTLE — Mariners starting pitcher Jason Vargas and second baseman Dustin Ackley supplied the appetizer and the rest of the lineup provided the main course in Tuesday’s 7-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
The win extended the Mariners season-long win streak to six games. Seattle hadn’t won six in a row since May 18-23, 2011.
“They have been coming out and playing good baseball,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “Jason Vargas set the tone and got us real deep in the ball game, pitched another great ball game. And we were pretty consistent with our at-bats throughout the ball game.”
Vargas struck out the side in the top of the first inning and Ackley hit the first pitch he saw about 20 rows deep over the right-field wall in the bottom of the inning. But it was just the beginning of an 12-hit outing for the Mariners and another quality start for Vargas, who gave up five hits and two runs in seven innings.
There was uncertainty surrounding Vargas’ start as the day began. He had been the subject of trade rumors for several weeks, but after the 1 p.m. PDT trade deadline passed, Vargas was still a Mariner and it was time to get ready for work.
“I think it would weigh on anybody,” Vargas said of the rumors. “But I tried to do my best to just focus on what I had to do tonight. I was excited when one o’clock hit and as the time got narrower and narrower I knew my chances got smaller and smaller. It was great, I’m glad to be here.”
If the top of the first inning was any indication, the trade talk didn’t faze him. Vargas froze third baseman Brett Lawrie with a called third strike to start the game and followed that by getting center fielder Colby Rasmus and designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion to strike out swinging.
Ackley’s home run in the bottom of the first was another welcome sign for the streaking Mariners.
“I’m always looking to hit the first pitch of the game,” Ackley said. “You usually think that is going to be a fastball because they are trying to get ahead, so fortunately enough I got a good one to hit and I didn’t miss it this time.”
Vargas worked another perfect inning in the top of the second and his teammates provided him all the run support he needed in the bottom of the inning, using four straight hits from the bottom of the order to do most of the damage.
With one out, first baseman Mike Carp started the hit parade with a single to center field. Catcher Miguel Olivo followed with a double off the wall in left-center field. Left fielder Trayvon Robinson’s single to center scored Carp and gave the Mariners a 2-0 lead. Robinson advanced to second base on the throw home by Rasmus.
The hot-hitting spread to shortstop Brendan Ryan. Ryan, who came into the game batting .197, lined a single into right field to score Olivo and give Seattle a 3-0 lead. The Mariners tacked on one more run before the end of the inning as Ackley picked up his second RBI of the game, grounding into a fielder’s choice.
The four runs were all Vargas would need, but not before he provided a bit of a scare in the top of the third inning.
With one out, Jeff Mathis singled and Moises Sierra singled for his first major league hit. Lawrie doubled to score Mathis and Sierra, cutting Seattle’s lead to 4-2. Lawrie is from Langley, B.C., and his sister Danielle was a former star pitcher at the University of Washington.
Following Lawrie’s double, Vargas settled down, giving up just two more hits, both in the seventh inning.
The Mariners, meanwhile, kept cranking out the hits — and the runs. Ackley added another RBI in the bottom of the fourth inning on another fielder’s choice and Olivo added a two-run single in the bottom of the fifth inning to give Seattle a 7-2 lead.
But the offensive story of the game might have just been Ryan. Ryan, known for his glove, finished the game with a season-high three hits.
“There has been a lot of pulling your hair out at one in the morning,” Ryan said. “It’s been such a battle to put together consistent good at-bats, so it’s been nice that there has been a little bit of a run here.”
Relief pitcher Josh Kinney struck out the side in the top of the ninth inning to preserve the victory.
Aaron Lommers covers sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.