American League Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, August 18th (All times Eastern)
Minnesota Twins (50-68) at Seattle Mariners (56-64), 9:10 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Minnesota - Scott Diamond (10-5, 2.97) Seattle - Jason Vargas (13-8, 3.56)
(Sports Network) - The Mariners will try to make it four wins in a row as they host the Minnesota Twins for the second part of their three-game set at Safeco Field.
Seattle took the last two games of its series with Tampa Bay before downing Minnesota, 5-3, in the opening game of the series. John Jaso and Miguel Oliva homered to lift the Mariners in Friday's win.
The Mariners have been tough to beat at Safeco Field as they have won 10 of their last 11 home games. They have also been victorious in five of their last six outings.
A lack of offensive production has been plaguing Seattle all season long, however the recent surge from the pitching staff has helped the Mariners string together some wins.
The Mariners starting pitching in their previous two games featured Felix Hernandez throwing a perfect game on Thursday, followed by Hisashi Iwakuma tossing seven outstanding innings on Friday. Jason Vargas will take the hill for the Mariners with the intent of riding the wave of success.
Vargas has been untouchable lately, going 6-1 with a 1.64 ERA over his past eight starts. The left-hander added another win onto his impressive season on Sunday by holding the Angels to one run over 8 1/3 innings.
"He obviously threw a great game," Angels slugger Albert Pujols said after Sunday's game. "He kept the ball down, he didn't make too many mistakes and that's pretty much it. He made his pitch when he needed to. Obviously we probably swung at some balls out of the strike zone, including myself. But he's a competitor, man. That's why he's so good -- he doesn't have to be overpowering. He just knows how to pitch, and you have to give those guys credit sometimes."
Vargas gave up only one run over 6 1/3 innings in his first meeting with Minnesota this season but did not get a decision.
The Twins will counter with their most reliable pitcher. Scott Diamond threw a quality start for the fourth time in a row when he surrendered eight hits and three runs while striking out six Tampa Bay batters in Sunday's 7-3 loss to the Rays. He showed mental toughness in that loss by managing to recover from a shaky start.
Diamond is 2-1 with a 2.37 ERA over that four-game span and 10-5 for the season with a 2.97 ERA.
The Twins produced two runs on consecutive homers by Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham late in Friday's loss. Minnesota's manager Ron Gardenhire knows his team will need to produce more today against Vargas.
"Offensively, we didn't do much," Gardenhire said. "We had a couple of home runs back-to-back, which kind of got us into the ballgame and made it interesting. But as you saw, a pretty good closer there. He threw the living fire out of the ball."
Willingham leads Minnesota with 31 home runs and 89 RBI, but he is 0-for-14 with seven strikeouts in his career versus Vargas. Mauer, who has a team-best .322 batting average, is 3-for-8 with a double and two walks against the Mariners' left-hander.
Seattle took two of three from the Twins earlier this year.
08/18 10:35:19 ET