BY SPNW Staff 06:54AM 04/12/2013

#12: Top Matchup So Far: Darvish Vs. Iwakuma

After a disappointing loss in a Felix Hernandez start, the Mariners look to Hisashi Iwakuma to stop a a three-game losing streak.

Yu Darvish (2-0) of Texas will oppose countryman Hisashi Iwakuma (1-0) Friday night at Safeco Field. / Wiki Commons

GAME: Rangers (7-3, 2nd, AL West, -10. GB) at Mariners (4-7, 3rd, AL West, -4.5 GB). GAME #: 12. SERIES: 2nd of 4 games. MEETING: 2nd (Rangers lead 1). WHEN: Friday, 7:10 p.m., Safeco Field. STREAKS: Mariners L 3; Rangers W 1. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network

Not every day that Felix Hernandez pitches is a day he owns. With 22,917 yellow-clad fans waiving Felix “K” cards, the Mariners ace faced the Texas Rangers Thursday night hoping to become the first pitcher in major league history to collect his 100th career victory and 1,500th strikeout in the same game. Instead, Felix and the Mariners lost 4-3 and that was only part of the bad news.

The Mariners placed outfielder Michael Saunders on the 15-day disabled list due to a jammed shoulder that he suffered while crashing into the Safeco Field wall Wednesday. Then, following the series-opening loss to the Rangers, the Mariners announced that Michael Morse, batting .293 with six home runs and nine RBIs, will miss a week after breaking a finger while trying to check his swing in the seventh inning.

Hernandez (1-2, 3.05) racked up his 1,500th strikeout, becoming the fourth-youngest in history to achieve the milestone, but he allowed a season-high 10 hits (he allowed just nine in his first two starts) as the Mariners lost their third in a row and for the fifth time in six games.

The Mariners are 4-7 and 4.5 games behind Oakland in the AL West. A year ago after 11, the Mariners were 6-5 and two games out.

Thursday night’s loss cannot be blamed entirely on Hernandez giving the Rangers too many pitches to hit. Seattle went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10 runners. Raul Ibanez misplayed a line drive for an error that resulted in a Texas run. Brendan Ryan botched a suicide squeeze in the eighth when he poked a bunt right back at the pitcher. And Mariners hitters didn’t do enough against rookie pitcher Justin Grimm, just called up from Round Rock of the PCL.

Now, the Mariners have to face Yu Darvish, who will start the second game of the series for Texas Friday night. The Mariners will counter with Hisashi Iwakuma.

The countrymen matched up six times when they pitched in the Japan Pacific League. Darvish went 3-2 with a 1.19 ERA and five complete games. They last faced each other Sept. 14, 2012, Darvish coming away with a 9-3 victory. Both are off to splendid starts as a closer look shows:


MARINERS: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (1-0, 2.57 ERA,0.42 WHIP)

The 31-year-old Iwakuma, in his second major league season, both with Seattle, will make his third start and first against the Rangers. Iwakuma probably would be off to a 2-0 start had he not surrendered a pair of long balls in a 4-3 loss at Chicago in his last start. Otherwise, Iwakuma has produced two solid outings, notably fanning 10 without issuing a walk. In his 18 starts since moving into the rotation at midseason last year, Iwakuma has a 2.64 ERA.

  • LAST START: April 7 at Chicago, took a no-decision in Seattle’s 4-3 loss to the White Sox; 3 earned runs on 4 hits in 8.0 innings, 3 strikeouts, 0 walks, 2 home runs; 89 pitches, 62 for strikes.
  • LAST VS. RANGERS: Sept. 21, 2012, won 6-3; 3 earned runs on 8 hits in 7.0 innings; 4 strikeouts, 0 walks, 1 home run; 90 pitches, 62 for strikes.
  • CAREER VS. RANGERS: 1-2, 5.31 ERA in 4 games, including 3 starts, covering 20.1 innings; 8 strikeouts to 5 walks, 4 home runs; 1.57 WHIP.
  • AT SAFECO FIELD: 6-3, 2.49 ERA in 17 games, including 10 starts, covering 76.0 innings; 67 strikeouts to 26 walks, 8 home runs; 1.18 WHIP.
  • LOVES TO FACE: Mitch Moreland (0-for-6, .000), Geovany Soto (1-for-5, .200), Elvis Andrus (2-for-9, .222).
  • HATES TO FACE: Craig Gentry (3-for-6, .500), Ian Kinsler (4-for-9, .444), Adrian Beltre (3-for-8, .375).
  • CURRENT RANGERS VS. IWAKUMA: 20-for-64, .313 BA, 7 strikeouts, 2 walks, 3 home runs, .343 on-base percentage.

RANGERS: RHP Yu Darvish (2-0, 1.98 ERA, 0.80 WHIP)

The 26-year-old Darvish, in his second major league season, both with the Rangers, will make his third start and first against the Mariners. Darvish came within one out of throwing a perfect game April 2 at Houston in a 14-strikeout, no-walk performance. He wasn’t nearly as dominant against the Angels in his second start, but good enough to collect his second win. Darvish hasn’t had nearly the success against Seattle as he’s had against other teams, with a 2-2 record and 6.65 ERA.

  • LAST START: April 7 vs. L.A. Angels, won 7-3; 3 earned runs on 6 hits in 5.0 innings; 6 strikeouts, 4 walks, 0 home runs; 85 pitches, 50 for strikes.
  • LAST VS. MARINERS: Sept. 14, 2012, won 9-3 for his 15th win of the year; 1 earned run on 2 hits in 7.0 innings; 9 strikeouts, 2 walks, 0 no home runs; 110 pitches, 79 for strikes.
  • CAREER VS. MARINERS: 2-2, 6.65 ERA in 4 starts covering 23.0 innings; 23 strikeouts to 16 walks, 1 home run; 1.65 WHIP.
  • AT SAFECO FIELD: 0-2, 9.58 ERA in 2 starts covering 10.1 innings; 9 strikeouts to 10 walks, 1 home run; 2.12 WHIP.
  • LOVES TO FACE: Kendrys Morales (0-for-13, .000), Michael Saunders (1-for-10, .100), Brendan Ryan (1-for-6, .167), Dustin Ackley (2-for-10, .200).
  • HATES TO FACE: Kyle Seager (4-for-1o, .400).
  • CURRENT MARINERS VS. DARVISH: 12-for-75, .160 BA, 25 strikeouts, 12 walks, 0 home runs, .275 on-base percentage.


  • CURRENT HOME STAND: Three vs. Houston, four vs. Texas Thursday-Sunday, three vs. Detroit Tuesday-Thursday. The Mariners get their first day off Monday.
  • Franklin Gutierrez hit his fourth home run of the year in the first inning, which was also his third leadoff home run.
  •  Michael Morse is expected to miss no more than a week after suffering a small fracture to his right little finger after getting hit on the hand in the seventh inning while trying to check his swing. Morse went 2-for-3 before departing and hit .293 with six home runs and nine RBIs in Seattle’s first 11 games.
  • Manager Eric Wedge gave struggling Dustin Ackley the night off. Ackley is batting just .100.
  • Also Thursday, the Mariners acquired pitcher Aaron Harang from Colorado in exchange for RHP Steven Hensley and designated reliever Kameron Loe for assignment.


Date Day Opp. Probable Pitchers
4/12 Fri vs. Tex RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (1-0) vs. RHP Yu Darvish (2-0)
4/13 Sat vs. Tex LHP Joe Saunders (1-1) vs. RHP Alexi Ogando (2-0)
4/14 Sun vs. Tex RHP Brandon Maurer (0-2) vs. RHP Nick Tepesch (1-0)



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