BY SPNW Staff 06:17AM 05/31/2013

#55: Small Sample, But Iwakuma Loves Twins

After splitting four games with the San Diego Padres, the Mariners begin a three-game series at Target Field in Minnesota Friday against the Twins.

The Mariners will begin a three-game, weekend series at Target Field in Minneapolis Friday afternoon. Hisashi Iwakuma will pitch for Seattle. / Wiki Commons

GAME: Mariners (23-31, 4th, AL West, -10.5 GB) at Twins (23-28, 4th, AL Central, -5.5 GB). GAME #: 55. SERIES: 1st of 3 games. MEETING: 1st (Mariners won 2012 series 8-2). WHEN: Friday, 5:10 p.m., Target Field. STREAKS: Mariners W 1; Twins W 1. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network

Nick Franklin appears to have a shot at becoming Seattle’s every-day second baseman, at least in the short term, after his performance the past two days. After making his major league debut three nights ago, Franklin collected his first big league hit Wednesday and encored with two home runs Thursday in Seattle’s 7-1 victory over San Diego.

Asked by Root Sports after what became a five-homer Seattle assault, which snapped a two-game Seattle losing streak, about his long balls, Franklin said, “Really, the most important thing is that we won. That’s the exciting thing.” Obviously, not a sabermetrics guy.

With Hisashi Iwakuma (5-1, 2.35 ERA) on the mound Monday, the Mariners have a chance to extend the excitement at the expense of the Minnesota Twins, a team Seattle dominated last year by winning eight of 10.

Despite Wednesday’s victory, the Mariners are headed for another irrelevant season. Not so Iwakuma. His 0.84 WHIP leads the American League and his 2.35 ERA is just points above the franchise single-season record of 2.27 by Felix Hernandez in 2010.

Iwakuma has faced the Twins just twice in his year and a half in the majors, but he’s won both starts and is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA at Target Field. Iwakuma will oppose Mike Pelfry, a pitcher that only Raul Ibanez, among Mariners regulars, has ever faced.


MARINERS: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (5-1, 2.35 ERA, 0.84 WHIP)

The 32-year-old Iwakuma, a Tokyo native in his second major league season, both with the Mariners, will make his 12th start and first against the Twins. Iwakuma finished May with a 3-0 record and 3.09 ERA and has been consistent all season with the lowest WHIP in the AL at 0.84 and an opponent batting average of just .193. He held Texas to two runs in eight innings in a no-decision in his last start.

  • LAST START: May 26 vs. Texas, took a no-decision in Seattle’s 4-3 victory; 2 earned runs on 5 hits in 8.0 innings; 8 strikeouts, 0 walks, 1 home run, 96 pitches, 74 for strikes.
  • LAST VS. TWINS: Aug. 28, 2012, won 5-2; 0 earned runs, 1 hit in 6.0 innings; 4 strikeouts, 4 walks, 0 home runs, 92 pitches, 49 for strikes.
  • CAREER VS. TWINS: 2-0, 0.00 ERA in 2 starts covering 13.0 innings; 5 strikeouts, 0 walks, 0 home runs, 0.76 WHIP.
  • AT TARGET FIELD: 1-0, 0.00 ERA in 1 start covering 6.0 innings; 4 strikeouts, 0 walks, 0 home runs, 0.83 WHIP.
  • LOVES TO FACE: Ryan Doumit (0-for-5, .000), Josh Willingham (0-for-5, .000), Joe Mauer (1-for-6, .167), Justin Morneau (1-for-5, .200).
  • HATES TO FACE: Jamey Carroll (1-for-3, .333).
  • CURRENT TWINS VS. IWAKUMA: 3-for-32, .094 BA, 8 strikeouts, 4 walks, 0 home runs, .216 on-base percentage.

TWINS: RHP Mike Pelfrey (3-5, 6.85 ERA, 1.76 WHIP)

The 29-year-old Pelfrey, an Ohio native in his eighth major league season and first with the Twins, will make his 11th start and first against the Mariners. Pelfrey continued his season-long struggles with a subpar outing vs. the Tigers last Sunday. He gave up five runs on five hits and three walks over 5.2 innings to mark the eighth time in 10 starts he failed to go at least six innings.

  • LAST START: May 26 at Detroit, lost 6-1; 5 earned runs on 5 hits iin 5.2 innings; 5 strikeouts, 3 walks, 1 home run, 110 pitches, 63 for strikes.
  • LAST VS. MARINERS: Never faced.
  • CAREER VS. MARINERS: No record.
  • AT TARGET FIELD: 2-2, 6.12 ERA in 5 starts covering 25.0 innings; 9 strikeouts, 8 walks, 2 home runs, 1.84 WHIP.
  • LOVES/HATES TO FACE: Pelfrey has faced only four Mariners. Raul Ibanez has the most at-bats against him, going 11-for-35, .314. Ibanez also has one home run off Pelfrey.


  • CURRENT ROAD TRIP: Two at San Diego (Wednesday-Thursday) and three at Minnesota (Friday-Sunday). The Mariners are in the midst of 20 games in 20 days with their next day off June 13.
  • With their 7-1 win Thursday, the Mariners earned a split of their home-and-home four games against Padres.
  • The five home runs hit were the most in a game since Seattle also had five June 6, 2007 against Minnesota, and the most in a road contest since May 2, 2002, when the Mariners also had five, four by Mike Cameron.
  • The two homers by Nick Franklin Thursday were also the first two of his major league career. He had his first career hit Wednesday, two days after his summons from AAA Tacoma.
  • One-third of the way through the schedule, the Mariners have 64 home runs. They hit 101, 109 and 149 in the three previous seasons.
  • Kendrys Morales, who homered and had an RBI single Thursday, is batting .347 in May.
  • Felix Hernandez, who had not won in three starts, collected the victory Thursday, improving to 6-4 for the season and to 5-0, 1.55 ERA at Petco Park.
  • Manager Eric Wedge said Thursday that Michael Morse, who suffered strained quadriceps last Wednesday, could rejoin the ball club in Minneapolis.


Date Day Opp. Probable Pitchers
5/31 Fri at Minn RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (5-1) vs. RHP Mike Pelfrey (3-5)
6/1 Sat at Minn RHP Aaron Harang (2-5) vs. RHP Kevin Correia (5-4)
6/2 Sun at Minn TBA vs. LHP Scott Diamond (3-4)
6/3 Mon vs. CWS LHP Joe Saunders (3-5) vs. LHP John Danks (0-0)
6/4 Tue vs. CWS RHP Felix Hernandez (5-4) vs. RHP Jake Peavy (6-2)
6/5 Wed vs. CWS RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (5-1) vs. RHP Dylan Axelrod (3-3)



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