There was a time when Jason Vargas wouldn't have pitched the eighth inning in the situation he found himself in Monday.
With the Seattle Mariners down 3-1 to the Baltimore Orioles, manager Eric Wedge could have gone to his bullpen.
Instead, he let Vargas pitch the bottom of the eighth. That way, if the Mariners were to have rallied in the ninth inning, he would have had a chance for a sixth consecutive win.
The rally didn't happen, but Wedge had no regrets about giving Vargas the chance.
"It says a great deal about him and how far he's come," Wedge said of Vargas. "He'd earned the right to stay out there. He makes pitches. He fought through that last inning."
Vargas's emergence as the proven No. 2 man behind Felix Hernandez began last year when he won a career-best 12 games. However, he was just 4-7 with a 5.42 ERA after the 2011 All-Star break.
The breakthrough this year has been that he is putting together strong July and August performances start after start. Vargas is 4-1 with a 2.31 ERA since the break.