The Seattle Mariners know all too well of McCarthy’s recent surge.
McCarthy takes the mound seeking a ninth post All-Star victory as the visiting Athletics and Mariners begin a three-game set Monday night at Safeco Field.
McCarthy (9-8, 3.26 ERA) has been very good since the Midsummer classic, going 8-3 with a 3.02 ERA. The right-hander has been particularly sharp over his last four starts, during which he’s compiled a 1.55 ERA while holding opponents to a .185 average.
In his most recent outing, McCarthy yielded one run and six hits in seven innings but didn’t factor in the decision of Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to AL West champion Texas.
“I think I got away with a couple things, a few pitches I wasn’t really thrilled with that they fortunately hit to somebody,” McCarthy told the A’s official website. “But as a whole I felt like I was able to work at a good pace, throw a lot of strikes and stay ahead of guys. Generally that’s a good recipe for success.”
McCarthy opened the month by throwing a three-hitter and striking out a career high-tying 10 during a 3-0 win over Seattle on Sept. 3, lowering his ERA to 1.14 in three meetings with Seattle (66-93) this season.
The Mariners’ offensive struggles are nothing new, as they’re on pace to finish last in the majors in runs for a second consecutive season. It was a poor defensive effort, however, that contributed to Sunday’s 12-5 loss to the Rangers - the team’s fourth straight defeat and 10th in 15 games.
Seattle matched a season high with four homers but committed two costly errors that led to two unearned runs.
“It’s more youth than anything else,” manager Eric Wedge told the Mariners’ official site. “We’ve got some guys in positions they haven’t been in for a very long time. We’re sending out a lot of kids that are playing at a point of time where they haven’t played much before. But they need to learn from the tough plays and tough times and grow confidence from the good plays.”
Vargas has momentum on his side after going 2-0 with a 2.41 ERA over his last three starts. He earned the victory despite not having his best stuff during Tuesday’s 5-4 win at Minnesota, allowing four runs - three earned - and nine hits in six innings.
With three losses this season, the left-hander is 0-4 with a 5.59 ERA in his last five outings against Oakland (72-87).
Vargas will try and slow down an A’s team which has won three of four - including Sunday’s 6-5, come-from-behind victory at Los Angeles. After scoring two runs in the eighth, Josh Willingham(notes) homered as part of a four-run, ninth-inning rally.
Despite his late-game heroics, Willingham is just 3 for 24 (.125) over the last seven games. He can’t be looking forward to facing Vargas, against whom he has gone hitless in eight career at-bats.