GAME: Mariners (1-0, 1st AL West, +1.0 GA) vs. Athletics (0-1, 4th AL West, – 1.0 GB). GAME #: 2. SERIES: 2nd of 2 games. MEETING (2012): 2nd (Mariners lead 1-0). WHEN: Thursday, 2:04 a.m. (PT), Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan. PROBABLE PITCHERS: LHP Jason Vargas (Seattle, 10-13, 4.25) vs. Bartolo Colon (Oakland, 8-10, 4.00). STREAKS: Mariners W 1; Athletics L 1. TV: ROOT Sports, MLB TV. RADIO: KIRO 710 (Seattle), Mariners Radio Network).
It’s going to be difficult for the Seattle Mariners (1-0) to top the theatrics produced by Ichiro and Dustin Ackley in a 3-1 season-opening victory over the Oakland Athletics (0-1) at the Tokyo Dome Wednesday, but they will give it a go Thursday when they hand the ball to Jason Vargas for the second and concluding game of a landmark trip to Japan.
The 29-year-old Vargas, the only lefty in Seattle’s five-man rotation, will oppose well-traveled veteran Bartolo Colon, who will be making his first start for the Athletics after spending the 2011 season with the New York Yankees.
Following Game #2 of 162, which will begin at 2:04 a.m., Pacific Time, the Mariners will return to their spring training headquarters in Peoria, AZ., play five more exhibition games, and then resume their regular-season schedule with a two-game series against the Athletics at the Oakland-Alameda County Stadium April 6-7.
The Mariners will then play a four-game series in Texas before returning to Seattle for their Safeco Field Opener April 13. A closer look at the Game 2 pitching combatants:
TODAY’S PROBABLE PITCHERS
MARINERS: LHP Jason Vargas (10-13, 4.25)
Vargas last faced the Athletics Sept. 26, 2011, beating them 4-2 for his 10th and final victory of the 2011 season. He allowed five hits over 8.0 innings and fanned 10.
Vargas, originally a second-round draft pick by the Florida Marlins (2004), has pitched for Seattle since 2009 and has a career record of 28-39 with a 4.53 ERA.
The Mariners acquired Vargas in a blockbuster, three-team trade Dec. 8, 2008, in which the Mariners sent J.J. Putz to the Mets. Seattle also received Mike Carp and Franklin Gutierrez in that trade. Since then, Vargas has made 86 appearances for the Mariners, with 77 starts and a record of 22-31.
Last year, Vargas made 32 starts and set career highs in strikeouts, wins and innings. He finished T3 in the American League with three shutouts and T4 in complete games with four. The three shutouts occurred over a six-start span from June 3-July 1.
LAST START: Pitched in a minor league intrasquad game March 21. Prior to that he got raked for seven earned runs on eight hits in 0.2 IP March 19. During Cactus League, Vargas worked a total of 8.2 innings, going 0-1 with a 12.46 ERA with six strikeouts in three starts.
CAREER VS. A’S: Has a 3-4 mark and a 3.97 ERA in nine appearances, including seven starts covering 47.2 IP; averages 8.1 K’s per 9 innings vs. Oakland, but has been dinged for 5 HRs and has walked 12 batters; has thrown one complete game.
2011 VS. A’S: Went 1-3 with a 3.86 ERA in five games, all starts, covering 32.2 IP; averaged 8.0 K’s per 9 IP, fanning 29 of 134 batters faced; tossed a complete game against Oakland July 6, allowing five hits over eight IP, but sustained a 2-0 loss.
LOVES TO FACE: Chris Carter (0-for-6, .000 BA, 3 K’s), Michael Taylor (0-for-5, .000 BA, 3 K’s), Cliff Pennington (3-for-13, .231 BA).
HATES TO FACE: Adam Rosales (2-for-5, .400 BA); Jemile Weeks (3-for-10, .300 BA, 1 BB).
ATHLETICS: RHP Bartolo Colon (8-10, 4.00)
Colon spent the 2011 season pitching for the New York Yankees, going 8-10 in 29 appearances, including 26 starts. New York granted Colon free agency after the season, and he hooked on with the Athletics Jan. 12 as a free agent.
Since his salad days in Cleveland (1997-02), Colon has pitched for the Expos (2002), White Sox (2003), Angels (2004-07) and Red Sox (2008). He had a second stint with the White Sox in 2009.
Now 39 years old, Colon hasn’t posted a season with double figures in wins since 2005, when he won 21 games for the Angels. Over the past three seasons, Colon has averaged just four wins per year.
Colon has twice scored Opening Day victories over the Mariners. He picked up the win in 2004, when the Angels defeated the Mariners 10-5, and again in 2006 when the Angels beat the Mariners 5-4.
- LAST START: Colon made only two starts this spring, posting a 1-0 record. The A’s scratched him from his last scheduled spring training start due to a finger blister.
- CAREER VS. MARINERS: Colon has produced a 14-11 record and 4.13 ERA in 29 games against the Mariners, all starts, covering 180.2 IP. He has 129 strikeouts in those games, 6.1 K’s per 9.
- 2011 VS. MARINERS: Colon did not pitch against the Mariners in 2011. He last pitched against the Mariners April 28, 2009, when he was with the White Sox. Colon allowed four hits over 7.0 innings in that game and beat Seattle 2-1.
- LOVES TO FACE: Miguel Olivo (0-for-8, .000 BA, 5 K’s), John Jaso (0-for-3, .000 BA, 1 K).
- HATES TO FACE: Chone Figgins (3-for-5, .600 BA, 1 RBI), Ichiro (25-for 59, .300 BA, 3 HRs, 8 RBIs).
Mariners 3, Athletics 1
AT TOKYO (March 28): Dustin Ackley drove in two runs with a solo home run and an RBI single and Ichiro delivered four hits, wowing his Japanese countrymen, as the Mariners defeated the Oakland Athletics in 11 innings in front of a sellout crowd of 44,227 at the Tokyo Dome.
Ackley, who belted a solo homer in the fourth, drove in Brendan Ryan in the 11th for the go-ahead run, and then Ichiro added an insurance run when his fourth hit of the game scored Ackley. Reliever Tom Wilhelmsen, working in relief of Felix Hernandez, collected the victory after pitching two scoreless innings. Brandon League picked up save No. 1 for his scoreless 11th inning.
By winning, the Mariners extended their streak of Opening Day wins to six, a franchise record and the longest such streak in the major leagues. The Mariners also improved to 6-3 all-time against Oakland in Opening Day games.
Ichiro, batting third, became the second player in franchise history to collect four hits in an Opening Day game, joining Ken Griffey Jr., who went 4-for 5 in a 7-4 win over the California Angels April 9, 1990.
Hernandez, who received his second Opening Day no-decision, worked 8.0 innings, allowing one run on six hits. He fanned six and did not walk a batter.
- Hanshin Tigers 5, Mariners 1 (March 24): After clobbering the ball for the Arizona portion of spring training, the Mariners reverted to their offensive feebleness of the past two seasons, getting only a ninth-inning home run from Casper Wells to avert a shutout in a 5-1 defeat at the hands of the Hanshin Tigers. Except for a terrible third inning, Mariners starter Hector Noesi did all right. But in that inning, he gave up a double, a two-run home run, a walk, a balk and hit a batter. He threw 76 pitches in five innings and gave up six hits and three runs.
- Yomiuri Giants 9, Mariners 3 (March 26): Hisashi Iwakuma, who will start the major league season in the bullpen, received the start against his countrymen and gave up six runs and 10 hits in four innings in Seattle’s 9-3 loss to the Giants at the Tokyo Dome. The two other Japanese players in Seattle’s lineup, Ichiro and Munenori Kawasaki, combined to go 0-for-7. The only noteworthy offense among the five Mariners hits came fromDustin Ackley, who homered in the first and tripled in the third.
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
- With their 3-1 Wednesday, the Mariners are now 21-15 on Opening Day. Their six-game winning streak on Opening Day is the longest in the majors.
- The Mariners are 6-3 all-time in Opening Day games against the Athletics and 6-5 all-time in road openers.
- Ichiro now has 17 hits on Opening Day, most in franchise history (No. 2 Ken Griffey Jr. had 14). Ichiro’s Opening Day batting average: .362 (17-for-47).
- In the opener, the top of Seattle’s order, Chone Figgins (1), Dustin Ackley (2) and Ichiro (4) combined for 7 of Seattle’s nine hits. But the Nos. 4-5 hitters, Justin Smoak (0-for-5) and newcomer Jesus Montero (0-for-4) went a combined 0-for-9. Smoak (4) and Montero (3) left 7 runners stranded.
- RISP: The Mariners went 2-for-7 (.286) with runners in scoring position in Game #1. They hit .222 with RISP in 2011.
- Thursday’s game will be the second of 19 between the Mariners and Athletics. Seattle went 10-9 vs. Oakland in 2011.
- The Mariners placed OF Franklin Gutierrez (partial tear of his right pectoral muscle) on the 15-day DL retroactive to March 24; placed C Adam Moore (wrist fracture) on the 15-day DL, also retroactive to March 24.
- The Mariners’ 30-man traveling roster includes 14 pitchers, 4 catchers, 7 infielders and 5 outfielders.
- The youngest player on the team is RHP Erasmo Ramirez at 21 years, 10 months. The oldest is Ichiro at 38 years, 5 months.
- The Mets and Cubs opened in Tokyo in 2000, followed by the Yankees and Rays (2004), and Red Sox and A’s (2008). Seattle and Oakland had been scheduled to play at the Tokyo Dome in March 2003, but the series was scrapped because of the threat of war in Iraq.
- The Hanshin Tigers team that Seattle played last Saturday featured two former Mariners, Randy Messenger (2008-09) and Kenji Johjima (2006-09).
- In addition to playing in Japan, the Mariners have played in Mexico (four exhibition games in Mexico City in 1982) and Vancouver, Canada (1986, 1993, 1994).
MARINERS WON-LOSS BREAKDOWN
|Rec.||Home||Road||Day||Night||vs. RHP||vs. LHP||Hit HR||No HR|
MARINERS BATTING PROFILE
MARINERS PITCHING PROFILE
|4/6||Fri||at Oak||To Be Determined|
|4/7||Sat||at Oak||To Be Determined|
|4/9||Mon||at Tex||To Be Determined|
|4/10||Tue||at Tex||To Be Determined|
MARINERS 2012 SCHEDULE/RESULTS
|Gm.#||Date||Opp.||W/L||Rec.||Win / Loss|
|1||3/28||at Oak||W, 3-1||1-0||W: Wilhelmsen (1-0); L: Carignan (0-1)|
|Gm. #||Date||Opp.||W/L||Rec.||Win / Loss|