08/25/10 8:09 PM ET
Vargas looks to rebound, Baker, build, in opener
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
After being rained out in Boston on Tuesday, and taking part in a doubleheader Wednesday, Seattle is headed to the friendly confines of a retractable-roof stadium for the start of a 10-game homestand on Friday -- one that begins with a three-game weekend series against the American League Central's first-place Twins.
After losing two of three in Boston before Thursday's day off, the Mariners will start the tilt with Jason Vargas on the hill. Vargas will look to recover from his worst outing of the year, in which he yielded a season-high seven runs in 6 1/3 innings against the Yankees.
The Mariners are 3-4 against Minnesota this season, but their series-opening starter has had better results. In his only career start against the Twins on June 1, the 27-year-old lefty gave up just one run in seven innings to earn the win.
With the Mariners coming off their longest road trip since 2004 -- four cities and 12 games -- they'll need Vargas to revert to the June 1 performance, not the one who took the hill against the Yankees on Saturday.
"I thought it was a bit of a rough start, but after the first inning, he was really good," Mariners interim manager Daren Brown said after that game. "Between the first and seventh innings, he was throwing as well as I've seen him throw."
The Twins beat Texas on Thursday night to avoid a four-game series sweep in Arlington.
Now they'll hand the ball to Scott Baker, who was lights out against the Angels last Sunday, hurling seven shutout innings while giving up five hits, walking two and striking out four.
Since the All-Star break, Baker has shined, going 4-1 with a 4.01 ERA in seven starts.
"In his last outing, he was in command, was ahead in the count," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Pitched effectively out of the zone too. That's where he pitches the best -- when he's able to get ahead and get guys to chase with that fastball up and breaking ball out. That's what he does best."
Twins: Looking for Emerald City revenge
In late May and early June, the last time the Twins were in Seattle, Minnesota dropped three of four to the Mariners and only scored three runs in the final three games -- all losses. ... For his career, Baker is 2-3 with a 4.66 ERA in eight starts against Seattle.
Mariners: Branyan finally goes deep at Fenway
Scratch another one off Russell Branyan's list. With a seventh-inning homer off Josh Beckett in the Mariners' 5-3 loss to the Red Sox on Wednesday afternoon, Branyan has now gone deep in 36 of the 39 ballparks he's played in. The 34-year-old lefty hitter had gone 16 games (15 starts) without going deep in Boston before the long ball. The home run was the 20th of the season for Branyan.
The Twins claimed left-hander Randy Flores off waivers from the Rockies on Wednesday. They still have to make a corresponding move to make room on the 25-man roster. ... Mariners utility man Matt Tuiasosopo's three hits in Wednesday's nightcap were a career high.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.