The Seattle Mariners posted only a pair a three-game sweeps during a 61-win season last year. They’re on the cusp of their first in 2011, but getting past Kyle Drabek(notes) may prove to be tougher this time.
The Mariners go for their longest winning streak of the young season when they attempt to beat Drabek and the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday.
Seattle (4-7) opened the season with consecutive victories, but followed with a seven-game slide before winning the first two in this matchup. The Mariners made it back-to-back victories Tuesday, beating Toronto 3-2 despite managing just five hits.
Their last three-game sweep came June 18-20 against Cincinnati at Safeco Field, and completing another may require solving one of the Blue Jays’ top young pitchers again.
Seattle posted a 6-3 win over Drabek (1-0, 1.38 ERA) on Sept. 22 in Toronto. The right-hander allowed three runs and four hits, including two homers, in five innings. Drabek lost all three of his starts last year with a 4.76 ERA, but appears to be putting those struggles behind him in his first full season in the majors.
The son of NL Cy Young Award winner Doug Drabek didn’t get a decision despite an impressive outing Friday, yielding two runs - one earned - with five strikeouts and four walks in six innings of a 3-2 win at Los Angeles. That came after allowing one run and one hit while striking out seven in seven innings of a 6-1 win over Minnesota on April 2.
“For a young guy, he doesn’t fear anyone that steps into the box,” manager John Farrell said of the 23-year-old. “That can be good, and that might work against you in certain situations. But because he is armed with such quality stuff, he’s got the ability to get guys out in the strike zone.”
That may cause problems for the light-hitting Mariners, who have a .221 average this season and .206 while going 2-3 at home. They’ve been held to four runs or fewer at Safeco in all but Monday’s 8-7 win over the Blue Jays (5-6).
Overcoming those struggles at the plate combined with an improved performance from Jason Vargas(notes) (0-1, 7.20) could go a long way in sweeping the Blue Jays for the first time since June 29-July 1, 2007.
The left-hander gave up seven runs and nine hits in 3 1-3 innings of a 12-3 loss to Cleveland on Friday.
“Guys started getting on and I started getting behind on a few hitters and it is just tough to turn it around,” Vargas said.
Vargas will be facing Toronto for only the second time. He yielded three runs and five hits, including a solo homer to Jose Bautista(notes), in 6 2-3 innings, but didn’t get a decision in a 4-3 home win on May 20.
Bautista is 3 for 7 in this series, and is hitting .400 with three homers and seven RBIs in his last 10 games against Seattle. The right fielder, though, hasn’t homered or driven in a run in five straight games after connecting for a pair of solo homers through the first three games of the season.
He had career highs of 54 homers and 124 RBIs last year, but only one and five, respectively, after 12 games.