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Twins rough up Vargas
Samuel Deduno dominated for seven innings, Trevor Plouffe homered and had four runs batted in, and the Minnesota Twins beat the Seattle Mariners 10-0 on Wednesday night.
Special to The Seattle Times
MINNEAPOLIS — Josh Willingham's fifth-inning home run was still rising when Mariners left-hander Jason Vargas yelled and glared at plate umpire Doug Eddings. A bad night for Vargas had just gotten worse, and Vargas chose to take it out on Eddings, who failed to give Vargas a called third strike on the pitch before.
Eddings whipped off his mask and stared at Vargas. While Willingham circled the bases for the Minnesota Twins, catcher Miguel Olivo stepped in front of Vargas, and Mariners manager Eric Wedge bounded out of the dugout to keep Vargas from being thrown out of the game. Things calmed down by the time Willingham touched the plate. But Vargas lasted only three more batters before Wedge returned to take him out.
Vargas gave up six runs over 4-2/3 innings in the 10-0 loss, his second consecutive shaky effort after 10 consecutive quality starts. The Mariners can still win this four-game series with a victory Thursday. But Wednesday night, against a Twins team that had lost seven straight to the Mariners and scored only two runs the previous two nights, Vargas — home-run prone earlier this season — allowed his fourth and fifth homers in his past two starts covering 8-2/3 innings. And the argument with Eddings reflected his irritation.
"I'm not going to get too in-depth," said Vargas, avoiding language that might incur a fine. "It was a good pitch whether it was a strike or not. Obviously it was a ball — he called it a ball. But that's not something I'm going to go into detail about."
Said Wedge: "He was upset and frustrated. I went out there to make sure it didn't go any further. I think everybody handled it well."
Twins starter Sam Deduno frustrated Mariners hitters just as much. All over the place 10 days earlier at Safeco Field, when he walked six in six innings of a 5-1 loss, Deduno baffled the Mariners through seven scoreless, two-hit innings, striking out a career-high nine while walking none. Deduno retired 18 consecutive batters between Trayvon Robinson's single in the first and another by Kyle Seager in the seventh. The Mariners had not been shut out since July 15.
Facing Deduno, Wedge asked his hitters for intelligent aggressiveness: Be ready for fastball strikes, but don't chase junk out of zone. Deduno foiled that by throwing 68 strikes out of 98 pitches. He retired the side in the second inning on seven pitches, all strikes, fanning Eric Thames looking and Olivo swinging with the last six.
Even when Deduno fell behind, he remained unfazed. John Jaso ended the fourth by taking three consecutive off-speed pitches for strikes after getting ahead in the count 2-0. By the time Robinson ended the game by striking out against reliever Anthony Swarzak, he felt so annoyed he raised his bat one-handed over his head and slammed the barrel to the ground like a hammer.
"He had that real power sinker going," Seager said of Deduno. "I didn't think he threw his curveball as much for strikes the first time we faced him, and this time he threw multiple curveballs for strikes. We couldn't really sit back and wait on him today and try to work the count, because he was throwing strikes and going right at people."
Meanwhile, Vargas struggled. In the fourth inning after Justin Smoak awkwardly pursued and misplayed a Chris Parmalee grounder for a two-base error, Trevor Plouffe homered to make it 5-0.
Vargas pitched out of more trouble after Pedro Florimon blooped a double. Then Willingham's leadoff homer in the fifth set him off.
"That was a bad pitch, a fastball away that cut right over the middle of the plate," Vargas said. "Guy's got 31 home runs. Now he's got 32."