It’s going to be difficult for the Seattle Mariners to top the theatrics produced by Ichiro and Dustin Ackley in a 3-1 season-opening victory over the Oakland Athletics in 11 innings at the Tokyo Dome Wednesday, but they will give it a go Thursday when they hand the ball to Jason Vargas for the second and concluding game of a landmark trip to Japan.
You can watch the game live at 2 a.m. on ROOT Sports or the MLB channel. Or you can watch it on replay on the MLB channel at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. or ROOT Sports at 7:30 p.m.
The 29-year-old Vargas, the only lefty in Seattle’s five-man rotation, will oppose veteran Bartolo Colon, who will be making his first start for the Athletics after spending the 2011 season with the New York Yankees.
A closer look at the Game 2 pitching matchup:
MARINERS: LHP Jason Vargas (10-13, 4.25 ERA in 2012)
Vargas last faced the Athletics Sept. 26, 2011, beating them 4-2 for his 10th and final victory of the 2011 season. He allowed five hits over 8.0 innings and fanned 10.
Vargas, originally a second-round draft pick by the Florida Marlins (2004), has pitched for Seattle since 2009 and has a career record of 28-39 with a 4.53 ERA.
The Mariners acquired Vargas in a blockbuster, three-team trade Dec. 8, 2008, in which the Mariners sent J.J. Putz to the Mets. Seattle also received Mike Carp and Franklin Gutierrez in that trade. Since then, Vargas has made 86 appearances for the Mariners, with 77 starts and a record of 22-31.
Last year, Vargas made 32 starts and set career highs in strikeouts, wins and innings. He finished tied for third in the American League with three shutouts and tied for fourth in complete games with four. The three shutouts occurred over a six-start span from June 3-July 1.
LAST START: Pitched in a minor league intrasquad game March 21. Prior to that he got raked for seven earned runs on eight hits in 0.2 IP March 19. During Cactus League, Vargas worked a total of 8.2 innings, going 0-1 with a 12.46 ERA with six strikeouts in three starts.
CAREER VS. A’S: Has a 3-4 mark and a 3.97 ERA in nine appearances, including seven starts covering 47.2 IP; averages 8.1 K’s per 9 innings vs. Oakland, but has been dinged for five HRs and has walked 12 batters; has thrown one complete game.
2011 VS. A’S: Went 1-3 with a 3.86 ERA in five games, all starts, covering 32.2 IP; averaged 8.0 K’s per 9 IP, fanning 29 of 134 batters faced; tossed a complete game against Oakland July 6, allowing five hits over eight IP, but sustained a 2-0 loss.
LOVES TO FACE: Chris Carter (0-for-6, .000 BA, 3 K’s), Michael Taylor (0-for-5, .000 BA, 3 K’s), Cliff Pennington (3-for-13, .231 BA).
HATES TO FACE: Adam Rosales (2-for-5, .400 BA); Jemile Weeks (3-for-10, .300 BA, 1 BB).
ATHLETICS: RHP Bartolo Colon (8-10, 4.00 in 2012)
Colon spent the 2011 season pitching for the New York Yankees, going 8-10 in 29 appearances, including 26 starts. New York granted Colon free agency after the season, and he hooked on with the Athletics Jan. 12 as a free agent.
Since his salad days in Cleveland (1997-02), Colon has pitched for the Expos (2002), White Sox (2003), Angels (2004-07) and Red Sox (2008). He had a second stint with the White Sox in 2009.
Now 39 years old, Colon hasn’t posted a season with double figures in wins since 2005, when he won 21 games for the Angels. Over the past three seasons, Colon has averaged just four wins per year.
Colon has twice scored Opening Day victories over the Mariners. He picked up the win in 2004, when the Angels defeated the Mariners 10-5, and again in 2006 when the Angels beat the Mariners 5-4.
LAST START: Colon made only two starts this spring, posting a 1-0 record. The A’s scratched him from his last scheduled spring training start due to a finger blister.
CAREER VS. MARINERS: Colon has produced a 14-11 record and 4.13 ERA in 29 games against the Mariners, all starts, covering 180.2 IP. He has 129 strikeouts in those games, 6.1 K’s per 9.
2011 VS. MARINERS: Colon did not pitch against the Mariners in 2011. He last pitched against the Mariners April 28, 2009, when he was with the White Sox. Colon allowed four hits over 7.0 innings in that game and beat Seattle 2-1.
LOVES TO FACE: Miguel Olivo (0-for-8, .000 BA, 5 K’s), John Jaso (0-for-3, .000 BA, 1 K).
HATES TO FACE: Chone Figgins (3-for-5, .600 BA, 1 RBI), Ichiro (25-for 59, .300 BA, 3 HRs, 8 RBIs).