Shooting for back-to-back wins for the first time since the middle of June, the Seattle Mariners play their final game before the All-Star break against the Oakland Athletics at the Coliseum this afternoon.
Already 15 1/2 games out of contention in the American League West, the deepest hole for any major league team entering play on Sunday, the Mariners have won a total of just seven games since posting consecutive victories versus San Francisco at Safeco Field on June 16-17.
On Saturday night Seattle took advantage of a complete-game effort by starting pitcher Jason Vargas en route to a 7-1 victory on the road. Vargas scattered seven hits, walked one and struck out six for his eighth win of the season.
While Vargas was keeping the A's in check, the offensive stars for Seattle were Kyle Seager and Brendan Ryan, who combined for five RBI, while Casper Wells accounted for two hits, including his fourth home run of the season.
"We scored seven runs, we pitched well and when you do that, everything is going to click," said Vargas. "We made some great defensive plays. Brendan and Seager over there, it was a pretty good night. They saved me some pitches, that's for sure."
While Vargas was having his way on the mound, Oakland starter Jarrod Parker wasn't so lucky as he permitted six runs -- five earned -- on six hits and a couple of walks over 4 2/3 innings. Parker struck out six.
"I made a lot of mistakes," Parker said. "I was not happy with it. It's kind of embarrassing, to be honest. Set the tone early. What you want to do as a starting staff is be effective and attack early, and I did the opposite tonight."
As disappointed as he may be with his performance last night, the fact remains that Parker is just the second pitcher since 1900 to allow one earned run or less in 10 of his first 14 career starts.
Coco Crisp, hitting just .234 at the moment, delivered three of Oakland's seven hits, another couple coming from Josh Reddick, who accounted for the lone run for the hosts with a solo home run in the bottom of the first inning.
Even though he will probably continue to be a subject of trades with the deadline approaching, Felix Hernandez is still on the Seattle staff and is slated to pitch the final game of the first half of the season this afternoon in Oakland.
The right-hander has won two straight decisions but has just those two victories since late May. On Tuesday Hernandez made it through just 5 1/3 innings against Baltimore, permitting four runs on eight hits, but also striking out eight in a 5-4 loss at home to the O's.
One of the league leaders in strikeouts with 122, against just 32 walks over 116 innings, Hernandez bowed in his previous outing against Oakland this season and now has a career mark of 13-5 with a 2.70 ERA in 24 games versus the A's.
Now with his fifth different team since 2007, Bartolo Colon will head to the mound for Oakland today, shooting for his seventh win of the campaign.
The aging right-hander made it through six innings in his most recent outing on Tuesday, allowing just one earned run on five hits and a walk, striking out three versus Boston, but his efforts failed to earn him a decision.
Colon, already 1-0 after pitching seven scoreless innings against the Mariners this year, is 16-12 with a 4.10 ERA during his career versus Seattle.
Oakland, which is nine games out in the AL West, continues to be the weakest hitting team in the league with a collective average of just .225 while Seattle is last in the AL in both on-base percentage (.293) and slugging (.360).