Since the All-Star break, the Mariners played so credibly that it became easier to forget how the season began.
But even the beginning of the season held no debacle like the one Wednesday in Minneapolis. Starter Jason Vargas had little and the offense less as the Mariners were trounced 10-0 by the Twins, who entered the game having lost 16 of their previous 19.
The Mariners beat the Twins in seven of eight games this season, but Minnesota made a great attempt to get it all back at once, pounding out 16 hits and two home runs. The margin of defeat was the worst of the season, easily exceeding the 9-2 defeat to Baltimore Aug. 8.
The most remarkable part was the pitching of starter Sam Deduno, who lost to the Mariners Aug. 19 in Seattle 5-1 when he allowed five hits and six walks. In his last outing against Texas, he gave up seven runs and 11 hits.
Wednesday he threw a seven-inning shutout -- the Mariners 12th of the year -- and allowed two hits, no walks and struck out nine. At one point he retired 18 in a row.
Vargas, meanwhile, struggled with command after the first two innings. In the third, he walked the Nos. 8 and 9 hitters and allowed three singles to give the Twins a 3-0 lead.
In the fourth, the lead grew to 5-0 on a two-run homer by Trever Plouffe. Another homer, a solo shot in the fifth by Josh Willingham, provoked Vargas to complain to the home-plate umpire about his strike zone. Vargas had to be pulled away by catcher Miguel Olivo and manager Eric Wedge.
In 102 pitches, Vargas (13-9) gave up six runs on six hits and two walks. Joe Mauer led the Twins with three hits, Plouffe, Willingham, Jamey Carroll, Justin Morneau and Ryan Doumit each had two.
In his previous start against Chicago, Vargas gave up six runs on seven hits in four innings. In two innings of relief for Vargas, rookie Carter Capps was little better, giving up three runs on four hits.
The four-game series wraps up with a 10 a.m. PT start with a forecasted high of more than 100 degrees in the Twin Cities.