Mariners-Rockies Preview

The Associated PressMay 19, 2012

Ichiro Suzuki is trying to get going at the plate, and visiting an NL opponent may be just what he needs.

The All-Star right fielder will try to continue his interleague success as the Seattle Mariners attempt to create some much-needed momentum in the middle game of this series with the struggling Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on Saturday.

Suzuki, owner of a number of Seattle's hitting records, seeks to build on his two hits and one run that helped back Kevin Millwood's two-hitter during Friday's 4-0 win over Colorado (15-23). The victory snapped a four-game slide for the Mariners (17-24).

The performance was Suzuki's third two-hit game in five contests, but he's hitting .283 on the season, significantly below his career .325 average.

While it appears the days the 38-year-old Japanese superstar would finish a season hitting well above .300 may be past him, he has hit NL opponents well, especially on the road.

Suzuki is hitting .320 with six doubles and 19 runs over the last 34 interleague road games, and that includes going 7 for 18 while scoring four times in four visits to Coors Field.

He has a career .380 average with three homers, four RBIs and 12 runs against the Rockies.

Jason Vargas (4-3, 3.28 ERA) hasn't come close to being that effective against them, last meeting Colorado in a loss on June 14, 2009. The left-hander, 0-2 with a 16.55 ERA in three career starts versus the Rockies, has failed to complete five innings in each contest.

He's 4-2 with a 1.81 ERA in his last seven interleague starts, though, tossing two complete games.

Vargas returns to interleague play looking to bounce back from his worst performance of the season. He was tagged for a season-high five runs and seven hits, including two homers, with three walks in six innings of Monday's 6-1 loss at Boston.

"I really didn't have anything but a fastball," Vargas said. "It was kind of opposite from my last outing, where I really couldn't throw a change-up for a ball. It was just one of those nights where I had to go out there and battle."

The Rockies have lost 11 of 14 and are trying to show improvement at the plate after being limited to a pair of singles Friday.

Christian Friedrich (1-0, 1.38) may not mind some offensive production as he makes his debut at Coors Field.

The rookie left-hander had 10 strikeouts while yielding one run and six hits in seven innings while not getting a decision in a 3-2 loss at San Francisco. He watched the offense muster five hits as the bullpen gave up two runs in the eighth.

That impressive performance from Friedrich came five days after he yielded two runs - one earned - while fanning seven in six innings of a 6-2 victory at San Diego in his major league debut.

So far, manager Jim Tracy likes what he's seeing from the Rockies' first-round draft pick in 2008.

"The kid that pitched (Monday), he's making quite a loud statement for himself," Tracy told the team's official website.