Welcome to Dirtbags Baseball blog! I was introduced to Long Beach State baseball in 2002 when my nephew, Neil Jamison, joined the team (and university) as a freshman. I started the blog in March of 2004, and generally discuss the team, current players and those that have moved on to professional baseball - as Neil has done in the San Diego Padres organization. Living in San Diego County, and with Neil moving to the next level, I won't be attending as many Dirtbags games. But, mostly from a distance, I'll remain a Dirtbags fan. I welcome tips on stories and information concerning the Dirtbags (current, past and future). I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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This on former Dirtbag Jason Vargas' 1st complete game victory - over the Dodgers yesterday (from MLB.com):
Vargas dominates Dodgers Lefty allows one run in first complete game of young career By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
MIAMI -- One impressive performance doesn't put a pitcher in elite company.
But emerging rookie Jason Vargas certainly made a statement in his fifth Major League start on a blistering 91-degree Sunday afternoon at Dolphins Stadium.
In front of 26,211, the 22-year-old left-hander went the distance, scattering six hits while striking out seven in the Marlins' 7-1 win over the Dodgers.
A second-round pick out of Long Beach State in 2004, Vargas helped himself with a two-run single off Derek Lowe (8-12), who suffered the loss.
Vargas delivered the Marlins' 13th complete game of the season, the most in the Major Leagues. Vargas joined Florida's "Big Three" of A.J. Burnett, Josh Beckett and Dontrelle Willis as Florida pitchers with a complete game in 2005.
"I don't impress easily," Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria said. "But that was something. That was worth sitting out there in the sun."
The addition of Vargas suddenly gives the Marlins another formidable starter. Still one game behind the Phillies in the Wild Card race, strong starting pitching promises to be Florida's best weapon in its playoff pursuit.
"I think my part is the same as any other pitcher on the pitching staff -- go deep into games and keep the team in the ballgame," said the left-hander from Apple Valley, Calif., who tossed a career-high 117 pitches. "That's my only thought right now. I'm not here to pitch like a rookie or act like one. I'm here to help these guys get to the playoffs and win a World Series."
Brought up from Double-A Carolina on July 14, Vargas stepped into the rotation when Al Leiter, who was 3-7 with a 6.64 ERA in 17 games in the first half, was designated for assignment the same day. Now 4-1 with a 2.43 ERA, Vargas, who wasn't sure if he had thrown a complete game since high school, has the distinction of tossing his first Major League complete game in his fifth start.
Sunday's effort gives Vargas a piece of franchise history. In 1998, Brian Meadows also logged a complete game in his fifth start.
Vargas is the first National League rookie to toss a complete game this season.
"I was kind of hoping the kid could get the shutout," Marlins manager Jack McKeon said. "You can't say enough good things about the kid. He's a delight to be around. He's in the game. He's a gamer. He's very knowledgeable about pitching. [He] has a plan when he goes out there. He's got a great attitude. I was kind of rooting for him to get the shutout. He was going to get the complete game. I didn't care if he threw 140 pitches, as long as it didn't get to the point where it was save territory."
While Vargas has a ways to go before achieving the status of Willis, Beckett and Burnett, the rookie has accomplished a complete game faster than any of them.
As a rookie in 2003, Willis went the distance for the first time in his eighth start, which was a one-hit, 1-0 win over the Mets. Burnett's first complete game was in his 22nd start, his no-hitter at San Diego on May 12, 2001. And Beckett's first complete game came in his 68th big league start, on Aug. 31, 2004, at the Mets.
Vargas is the latest to feed of stellar outings from the "Big Three," who offer him encouragement.
"They all trust me," Vargas said. "They know I can go out there and pitch. They just tell me to stay focused and stay in my game -- not try to overdo anything. Pretty much do what I do that helped me get here, and you'll be fine up here. Just seeing that confidence from them just helps me every time I go out."
The Marlins tagged Lowe for four runs in the second inning. Carlos Delgado led off with a double, and after Jeff Conine walked, Paul Lo Duca's sacrifice bunt advanced both runners. A walk to Mike Lowell loaded the bases, setting up Alex Gonzalez's two-run double. Juan Pierre added a two-out, two-run single, snapping an 0-for-14 drought.
Lowe exited after 3 2/3 innings after the Marlins scored twice in the fourth inning. With one out, Lowell singled and Gonzalez's second double of the game put runners on second and third for Vargas. The Dodgers brought their infield in, and the rookie pitcher floated a two-run single to left.
Once a first baseman and designated hitter in college, Vargas collected his first two big-league RBIs.
The one Dodger who gave Vargas trouble was Milton Bradley, who had three hits, including a double in the seventh.
Trailing, 6-0, the Dodgers had a chance to get on the board in the seventh inning. With two outs, Antonio Perez singled sharply to left field. Miguel Cabrera charged and made a perfect throw to the plate, enabling Lo Duca to tag out the sliding Bradley.
Cabrera leads all Marlins outfielders in assists with 10.
The Dodgers broke up Vargas' shutout bid in the eighth inning when Cesar Izturis avoided tapping into a double play. Izturis' fielder's choice scored Jason Phillips, who led off the inning with a walk. Former Marlin Hee-Seop Choi had a pinch-hit single, moving Phillips to third. Izturis bounced to second base, and while the Marlins forced Choi at second, the speedy Dodgers shortstop beat the relay throw to first.
Entering the ninth, Vargas had thrown 96 pitches, and he gave up a one-out double to Olmedo Saenz. From there, the left-hander struck out Jayson Werth looking and got Perez to swing through strike three with the count full to end the game.
After Perez went down on strikes, the typically level Vargas let out an emotional burst.
"I was pretty excited at the end there, especially to strike out a guy who can handle the bat," Vargas said. "To make that be the last out of my first complete game made everything fall into place."
McKeon was determined to get Vargas the complete game.
"I think this was the turning point right here, for him to say, 'I can finish the game I start,'" McKeon said. "He does have a knack. He's a little bit like Dontrelle in that he has a knack for being able to get out of jams, to battle out of some jams."