SEATTLE -- Lost in a dismal first inning for starter Jason Vargas and another lack of offensive production in Seattle's 4-2 loss to Florida on Saturday night were two innings of impressive pitching by reliever Jamey Wright.
Wright struck out three and allowed just one hit in two shutout innings, looking a lot like the reliable reliever he was in April and May.
"I was encouraged -- that's the best we've seen him throw in a while," said Seattle manager Eric Wedge. "He had a run through the middle of the lineup, and had everything working. He's a guy we'll need. It's great to see him come out there and throw the ball the way he did for two innings."
It's been a rough couple of weeks for the Oklahoma City native. After allowing just four runs in April and May combined, Wright gave up six earned runs in four consecutive appearances -- starting with a June 1 loss to Baltimore, when he surrendered an eighth-inning home run to Adam Jones and picked up his second loss.
Since giving up one run at Detroit on June 11, Wright has seen the mound just three times, including Saturday's appearance. And even though he gave up a two-run homer to Shane Victorino on June 19, the 36-year-old veteran still believes he is making good pitches.
- 131 wins
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"I feel great, but I'm not getting results," he said prior to Sunday's rubber match against Florida. "There were a couple times out there where good pitches were getting hit. You got to tip your hat to big league hitters -- they don't always make outs on good pitches. I'm just trying to keep the mindset of staying aggressive and attacking the zone."
But Saturday against Florida, it all seemed to click.
"Everything kind of came together," Wright said. "Everything was going toward the plate -- lots of strikes, good sinker, good curveball. Got to keep it up."
Wright, who has played for ten different MLB teams, says it's been frustrating because he's not used to sitting for six or seven days at a time. Still, the journeyman -- who is just two career appearances away from 500 -- is staying positive, especially playing on a team contending for a division title.
"I'm having a blast out there. I'm a lot more polished as a pitcher [than] I ever have been," he said. "Being in the playoff race, unfortunately, it's not something I've had an opportunity to do a lot of years in my career.
"So I want to be in there every game. I want to be one of the go-to guys and keep doing what I'm capable of doing, and that will work itself out."
Wedge: Vets staying positive despite sitting
SEATTLE -- You've probably noticed a recent lack of "Jack" in the Seattle lineup, and you aren't alone. Mariner vets Jack Cust and Jack Wilson have been somewhat of the odd men out in the past few weeks.
As recent callup Dustin Ackley looks like the everyday starter at second base, Wilson has just seven starts in 23 games this month. Cust, meanwhile, has eight starts, and is just 3-for-22 in June.
But while their playing time has been reduced, neither has complained or shown a bad attitude.
"It's been tough for both of them, but they've maintained good attitudes," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. "You guys have seen it. I believe in giving opportunity. But at certain points in time, you got to make adjustments and make some changes -- and that's what we've tried to do."
But the door has yet to be closed. And just because both Cust and Wilson haven't seen much playing time, they could be one game-winning home run or RBI away from seeing more starts.
"I don't expect them to like not playing, but that's why you got to keep coming to the ballpark," Wedge said. "With one entry or one opportunity that you take advantage of, it can change real quick."
Sandwich behind Smoak's Saturday troubles
SEATTLE -- For those wondering why Justin Smoak didn't start in Saturday's 4-2 loss to Florida, all signs point to steak sandwiches.
The 24-year old came out for batting practice early on Saturday, and something just wasn't feeling right.
"It was weird," he said. "Something I ate, I don't know what it was. I had a steak sandwich [on Saturday], and something wasn't sittin' right."
So he came into the clubhouse before batting practice even ended and was scratched from the lineup. But Smoak, who is tied for the team lead with 12 homers, still saw time on the field. He came in as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning, with runners at second and third and his team down two runs.
The South Carolina native was hit by a Randy Choate pitch to load the bases, but Ichiro Suzuki grounded out to end the inning and any chance at a Mariners comeback.
"He's a tough kid," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said of Smoak. "He came out here and worked through it. We knew we'd have one shot at him, and felt pretty good about the shot we had. But it didn't work out."
The switch-hitting first baseman felt better on Sunday, though, and started at first base in the series finale, while hitting in the four-hole.
Taylor Soper is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.