BY SPNW Staff 07:10AM 04/02/2013

#2: Felix, Mariners Roll A 7, But Win No. 2 Elusive

Hisashi Iwakuma became an effective member of the Mariners rotation last season, pitching in 30 games (16 starts, 14 relief appearances) with a 3.16 ERA.

Hisashi Iwakuma, in the Mariners rotation for the second year, went 2-0 with a 4.26 ERA in six spring appearances covering 19.0 innings. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

GAME: Mariners (1-0, T1, AL West, +1.0 GA) at Athletics (0-1, T4, AL West, -1.0 GB). GAME #: 2. SERIES: 2nd of 4 games. MEETING: 2nd (Mariners lead 1-0). WHEN: Tuesday, 7:05 p.m., Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, CA. STREAKS: Mariners W 1; Athletics L 1. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network

The Mariners have won seven consecutive Opening Day games — they defeated defending AL West champion Oakland 2-0 Monday night with another boffo performance by Felix Hernandez — but only twice during that run of success — 2007 and 2011 — have the Mariners followed up by winning the second game of the season.

Also, in the past seven years, Seattle has started the season on the road five times, including Monday night. But only once during that span — 2009 — did the Mariners arrive at Safeco Field for the home opener with a winning record (5-2).

Hernandez, who fanned eight, walked just one and made the most of Franklin Gutierrez’s two-run, fifth-inning single in his 7.2 innings of work, certainly did his part to get the Mariners off to a positive start. Tuesday, the Mariners will entrust Hisashi Iwakuma to keep it rolling.

Iwakuma, who started last season as a long reliever before transitioning into a starter’s role at midseason, says he’s prepared and confident in his new role as Seattle’s No. 2 starter behind Hernandez.

“Last year was definitely exciting for myself, being here for the first time and everything being new,” Iwakuma said this week through interpreter Antony Suzuki. “This year there’s more expectation that comes along with following Felix. There is definitely an advantage compared to last year. I had no information then, just what we had in our reports. So there’s a different comfort level that I’m in right now.”

Iwakuma, who piled up four victories down the stretch last season, will contest Jarrod Parker, who finished fifth in the 2012 American League Rookie of the Year voting. A closer look at Tuesday’s starters:

TUESDAY’S PROBABLES

MARINERS: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (9-5, 3.16 ERA, 1.27 WHIP)

Iwakuma made five spring training starts and compiled a 2-0 record with a 4.26 ERA in 19.0 innings. After spending the first half of 2012 as a reliever, he moved into the rotation and went 8-4 with a 2.50 ERA in 15 starts. Iwakuma recorded four of his victories in September/October. Iwakuma has never pitched in the Oakland Coliseum and has yet to defeat the Athletics (two starts).

  • LAST START: Oct. 2, 2012, defeated the L.A. Angels 6-1 to end the season 9-5; no earned runs, 6 hits, 7 strikeouts, 1 walk in 6.0 innings; 105 pitches, 72 for strikes.
  • LAST VS. A’S: Sept. 8, 2012, lost 6-1; 5 runs (4 earned) in 3.2 innings; 3 strikeouts, 2 walks, 1 home run; 77 pitches, 50 for strikes.
  • CAREER VS. A’S: 0-2, 6.14 in three games, including 2 starts, covering 7.1 innings; 6 strikeouts to 4 walks, 2 home runs, 1.5 WHIP.
  • AT OAKLAND COLISEUM: Never pitched.
  • LOVES TO FACE: Josh Reddick (0-for-4, .000, Seth Smith (0-for-2, .000), Brandon Moss (0-for-1, .000).
  • HATES TO FACE: Yoenis Cespedes (2-for-4, .500), Josh Donaldson (1-for-2, .500), Coco Crisp (1-for-4, .250).
  • CURRENT A’S VS. IWAKUMA: 4-for-18, .222 BA, 3 strikeouts, 3 walks, 1 home run.

ATHLETICS: RHP Jarrod Parker (13-8, 3.47 ERA, 1.26 WHIP)

Parker, who began his career with the Arizona Diamondbacks (2011), started the 2012 season in the minor leagues and joined Oakland’s rotation in late April. He had a no-hitter for seven innings against Texas June 4, and had two postseason appearances against the Detroit Tigers. He had losses in Game 1 and Game 5 to Justin Verlander. This will be Parker’s third career start against Seattle.

  • LAST START: Oct. 1, 2012, defeated Texas 4-3; 3 earned runs on 6 hits in 6.0 innings; 6 strikeouts to 2 walks, 2 home runs; 94 pitches, 62 for strikes.
  • LAST VS. MARINERS: July 7, 2012, lost 7-1; 6 earned runs on 6 hits in 4.2 innings; 6 strikeouts to 2 walks, 1 home run; 94 pitches, 53 for strikes.
  • CAREER VS. MARINERS: 1-1, 5.40 in two starts covering 11.2 innings; 15 strikeouts to 6 walks; 2 home runs, 1.28 WHIP.
  • AT OAKLAND COLISEUM: 6-5, 2.61 in 15 starts covering 100.0 innings; 71 strikeouts to 30 walks; 5 home runs, 1.18 WHIP.
  • LOVES TO FACE: Dustin Ackley (0-for-5, .000), Franklin Gutierrez (0-for-3, .000 BA), Justin Smoak (1-for-5, .200).
  • HATES TO FACE: Kendrys Morales (5-for-12, .417), Raul Ibanez (1-for-3, .333), Brendan Ryan (1-for-4, .250).
  • CURRENT MARINERS VS. PARKER: 10-for-53, .189 BA, 16 strikeouts, 5 walks, 1 home run.

MARINERS STATS / NOTES

  • CURRENT ROAD TRIP: Four at Oakland (Monday-Wednesday), three at Chicago White Sox (Friday-Sunday).
  • Mariners are 22-15 all-time in season openers, including a 7-game Opening Day winning streak (2007-13).
  • Seattle’s seven straight Opening Day wins are tied with the Diamondbacks for the longest active streak in the majors. Those two are the first clubs to win seven in a row since the Chicago White Sox from 1987-93.
  • Mariners have won 8 of their last 9 season openers; prior to a win in 2005, Mariners had lost 6 of 7 openers dating to 1998.
  • Monday marked the 10th time in club history that the Mariners opened the season against the Athletics, and 8th time opening a season on the road.
  • Seattle is 7-3 all-time on Opening Day against the A’s (3-3 in Oakland, 3-0 in Seattle, 1-0 neutral), including winning five straight.
  • The Mariners opened with a night game for the 5th consecutive season, but just the 7th time over the last 12.
  • Mariners are 19-9 in night openers (3-6 during the day).
  • Seattle is 7-5 in season openers on the road and has opened on the road vs. the same team four consecutive seasons for the first time in club history.
  • Felix Hernandez has four (4-0) wins on Opening Day, most in franchise history (no-decision last year). Randy Johnson had two wins and no other Mariners pitcher had more than one.
  • Hernandez, who has a 1.33 ERA in Opening Day outings with 42 strikeouts, now has 99 career wins and will go for No. 100 Saturday in Chicago.
  • Hernandez is now tied with Bert Blyleven and Dwight Gooden as the only pitchers since 1920 to pitch six season openers prior to the age of 27.
  • Over the past seven seasons, Oakland has won the season series with Seattle in all even-numbered years — 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012 — while the Mariners have won the season series in odd-numbered years, 2007, 2009 and 2011.
  • No. 9 hitter Brendan Ryan, who hit just .194 last season, reached base in all three of his plate appearances Monday on a single and two walks. He also scored a run on Gutierrez’s fifth-inning single.
  • To celebrate the season opener, 15,376 fans showed up at Safeco Field Monday night to watch the game on the giant new video screen. The last time the Mariners played a game at Safeco Field — Oct. 3, 2012 — they drew 15,614.

UPCOMING PROBABLES

Date Day Opp. Probable Pitchers
4/3 Wed at Oak LHP Joe Saunders (3-3) vs. LHP Tommy Milone (13-10)
4/4 Thr at Oak RHP Brandon Maurer (0-0) vs. RHP A.J. Griffin (7-1)
4/5 Fri at CWS RHP Blake Beavan (11-11) vs. RHP Jose Quintana (6-6)
4/6 Sat at CWS RHP Felix Hernandez (13-9) vs. RHP Dylan Axelrod (2-2)
4/7 Sun at CWS RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (9-5) vs. LHP Chris Sale (17-8)

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