While their teams' performances have largely been lackluster, the Seattle Mariners' Jason Vargas and the Minnesota Twins' Scott Diamond are enjoying fine seasons.
The two will attempt to add to their team-best win totals when they face off Saturday night at Safeco Field.
Vargas (13-8, 3.56 ERA) has never finished with a winning record over his six previous major league seasons, the last three with Seattle (56-64). The left-hander, though, is poised to pull off that feat thanks in part to a recent string of superb outings.
Vargas is 6-1 with a 1.79 ERA over his last eight starts, and he gave up one run over 8 1-3 innings Sunday while outdueling Cy Young Award contender Jered Weaver during a 4-1 road victory over the Los Angeles Angels.
Diamond (10-5, 2.97), who has four more wins than any other member of the Twins (50-68), has pitched at least seven innings and allowed three runs or fewer in four consecutive starts. Extending that streak Sunday against Tampa Bay, however, wasn't enough to earn him a victory.
Diamond gave up three runs over seven frames and struck out six, but Minnesota lost 7-3 in 10 innings, one of the club's seven defeats in its past eight games. He yielded two of those runs on solo homers in the first two innings.
"When I've been getting in trouble early innings, I've still been able to make a pitch and kind of collect myself and continue to work," Diamond said.
In his first start against Seattle, Diamond will face a team that's won 10 of 11 at home and five of six overall. The Mariners earned their third straight win over the Twins in Friday's series opener.
John Jaso and Miguel Olivo hit early homers during that 5-3 victory, and Eric Thames and Dustin Ackley each drove in a run during a pivotal sixth inning. It was Seattle's first contest since Felix Hernandez's perfect game Wednesday against Tampa Bay.
"Our (starting pitchers) have fed off each other," manager Eric Wedge told the team's official website. "I think they've done a nice job of working to go out there, and not just compete as individuals, but the collective five. They go out there and just take their turn and give us every opportunity to win. I think they take a lot of pride in that."
Vargas will try to continue the Mariners' string of successful outings while earning his second win in his past three meetings with the Twins. He did not get a decision in his only matchup with Minnesota this season May 4 at Safeco despite allowing one run over 6 1-3 innings.
Vargas has given up one homer over his last five starts combined after yielding at least one in 12 consecutive outings. He hasn't given up any in his last two matchups with the Twins.
Minnesota's home run leader, Josh Willingham, is 0 for 14 with seven strikeouts against Vargas.