With 34 of their 57 games this season decided by two or fewer runs, the Seattle Mariners know what it’s like to play in close games.
Lately, that experience has shown.
Seattle opens a nine-game road trip Tuesday night at Camden Yards, where it faces a slumping Baltimore Orioles club that’s hoping a nine-game homestand can help it get back on track.
The Mariners (28-29) have won their last three series and four of their last five games. The last three of those victories have all come by two runs or fewer, including Sunday’s 4-2 victory over Minnesota.
Sean White(notes) picked up his first career save in place of regular closer David Aardsma(notes), who wasn’t available Sunday after making 10 appearances in the previous 16 games. He’s expected to be available in this series.
“I think he has been tired the past couple of outings,” Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu told the team’s official Web site. “We are going to be forced to put guys in situations you either haven’t put them in before, or haven’t developed total trust in that situation.”
Left-hander Jason Vargas(notes) (2-0, 1.93 ERA) makes his second consecutive start against the Orioles. He yielded two runs and eight hits over 5 1-3 innings Wednesday as Seattle defeated Baltimore 3-2 on Adrian Beltre’s(notes) game-winning single in the ninth inning, taking two of three meetings at Safeco Field.
“I kind of struggled a little when I got ahead in the count early,” said Vargas, 1-0 with a 2.17 ERA in five starts since being called up from Triple-A Tacoma on May 1. “But we did a great job of battling and came up big late.”
After losing the final two games of the series in Seattle, the Orioles (24-33) dropped three straight at Oakland as their road record fell to 8-20. They’ve lost seven of eight overall, with the Baltimore starting rotation compiling a 7.05 ERA in that span.
“When you’re playing a three-game series, and two out of the three you’re taking your starting pitcher out in the first inning, that ought to tell you your starting pitching’s not giving you what you need to have a chance,” Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said.
Brad Bergesen(notes) (2-2, 4.64) will try to end that trend as he makes his second straight start against Seattle. The right-hander allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings of Wednesday’s loss - his second consecutive outing allowing only two runs.
The Orioles are batting .218 during their five-game slide. Adam Jones(notes), though, raised his season average to .346 with Sunday’s 2-for-4 effort. He was 4 for 11 with two doubles in the series at Safeco last week.
The Orioles won all four meetings with the Mariners at Camden Yards last season.