BY SPNW Staff 06:19AM 06/05/2013

#60: Iwakuma, Mariners Can Make It A Sweep

An 7-4 winner over the White Sox Tuesday night, the Mariners will go for a sweep of their three-game series with Chicago Wednesday afternoon.

Paul Konerko of the White Sox is a career .312 hitter with 31 home runs against the Mariners, who are seeking a sweep of the White Sox Wednesday. / Wiki Commons

GAME: White Sox (24-32, 4th, AL Central, -7.0 GB) at Mariners (26-33, 4th, AL West, -10.0 GB). GAME #: 60. SERIES: 3rd of 3 games. MEETING: 6th (Mariners lead 3-2). WHEN: Wednesday, 12:40 p.m., Safeco Field. STREAKS: Mariners W 2; White Sox L 8. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network

Anyone predicting in early April that Hisashi Iwakuma would out-pitch Felix Hernandez over the first two months of the season would have been a candidate for seizure in a butterfly net. But Iwakuma is not only putting up numbers that exceed Hernandez’s, he is out pitching most of the American League.

Entering Wednesday’s final of a three-game series with the Chicago White Sox, and with the Mariners seeking a rare sweep after Tuesday’s 7-4 win, Iwakuma is 6-1, an .857 win percentage that ranks third in the American League and sixth in the majors. His wins above replacement (WAR) of 3.4 s third in baseball and second in the AL. His ERA of 2.13  is fifth overall and second in the AL.

And Iwakuma’s WHIP — walks plus hits per innings pitched — is 0.87, best in the majors. Hernandez, who notched his seventh win Tuesday despite some early struggles, isn’t even in the top 10 on this list.

Iwakuma, just a guy out of Seattle’s bullpen one year ago, will make his 13th start of the season Wednesday when the Mariners go for a sweep. The Mariners have not won three straight since May 1-4, and the back-to-back wins Monday and Tuesday are the first for Seattle over Chicago since Sept. 16-17, 2009.

WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLES

MARINERS: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (6-1, 2.13 ERA, 0.87 WHIP)

The 32-year-old Iwakuma, a Tokyo native in his second major league season, both with the Mariners, will make his 13th start and second against the White Sox. Iwakuma will bring a four-decision winning streak into Wednesday’s contest. He has five no-decisions, including one against the White Sox April 7 at U.S. Cellular Field.

  • LAST START: May 31 at Minnesota, won 6-1; 0 earned runs on 7 hits in 7.2 innings; 5 strikeouts, 2 walks, 0 home runs, 98 pitches, 65 for strikes.
  • LAST VS. WHITE SOX: April 7, took a no-decision in Seattle’s 4-3 loss; 3 earned runs on 4 hits in 8.0 innings; 3 strikeouts, 0 walks, 2 home runs, 89 pitches, 62 for strikes.
  • CAREER VS. WHITE SOX: 0-0, 2.77 ERA in 3 games, including 1 start, covering 13.0 innings; 6 strikeouts, 2 walks, 3 home runs, 0.53 WHIP.
  • AT SAFECO FIELD: 8-3, 2.13 ERA in 22 games, including 15 starts, covering 109.2 innings; 100 strikeouts, 28 walks, 10 home runs, 1.00 WHIP.
  • LOVES TO FACE: Gordon Beckham (0-for-5, .000), Paul Konerko (0-for-4, .000), Alexei Ramirez (1-for-5, .200).
  • HATES TO FACE: Adam Dunn (2-for-5, .400), Conor Gillaspie (1-for-3, .333), Jeff Keppinger (1-for-3, .333).
  • CURRENT WHITE SOX VS. IWAKUMA: 6-for-43, .140 BA, 6 strikeouts, 2 walks, 3 home runs, .178 on-base percentage.

WHITE SOX: RHP Dylan Axelrod (3-4, 4.04 ERA, 1.20 WHIP)

The 27-year-old Axelrod, a Santa Barbara, CA., native in his third major league season, all with the White Sox, will make his 12th start and second against the Mariners. Axelrod had a three-game winning streak before dropping his last outing at Oakland. He’s pitched into the sixth inning eight times and had his most effective start against the Mariners April 6 when he did not allow an earned run in 5.2 innings.

  • LAST START: May 31 at Oakland, lost 3-0; 2 earned runs on 4 hits in 7.0 innings; 7 strikeouts, 0 walks, 0 home runs, 97 pitches, 57 for strikes.
  • LAST VS. MARINERS: April 6, took a no-decision in Chicago’s 4-3 win; 0 earned runs on 3 hits in 5.2 innings; 3 strikeouts, 2 walks, 0 home runs, 97 pitches, 56 for strikes.
  • CAREER VS. MARINERS: 0-0, 0.00 ERA in 1 start covering 5.2 innings; 3 strikeouts, 2 walks, 0 home runs, 0.88 WHIP.
  • AT SAFECO FIELD: Never pitched.
  • LOVES TO FACE: Kendrys Morales (0-for-3, .000), Michael Saunders (0-for-3, .000), Brendan Ryan (0-for-2, .000).
  • HATES TO FACE: Justin Smoak (1-for-2, .500), Michael Morse (1-for-3, .333).
  • CURRENT MARINERS VS. AXELROD: 3-for-26, .115 BA, 6 strikeouts, 3 walks, 0 home runs, .207 on-base percentage.

MARINERS STATS / NOTES

  • CURRENT HOME STAND: Three vs. the White Sox (Monday-Wednesday), four vs. the Yankees (Thursday-Sunday), three vs. the Astros (Monday-Wednesday). The Mariners are amid 20 games in 20 days with their next day off June 13.
  • The Mariners have hit 12 home runs over their past seven games, and would have 13 if a shot by Nick Franklin Tuesday hadn’t been reversed.
  • Felix Hernandez (7-4) notched his seventh win Tuesday by allowing four runs in 7.1 innings while walking eight and walking one.
  • Raul Ibanez has 11 home runs, including two in the past two games. Ibanez, who went 2-for-4, is batting .305.
  • Kendrys Morales, also 2-for-4, extended his hitting streak to six games and is batting .375 during it. Morales has a hit in 12 consecutive games at Safeco Field.
  • Kyle Seager extended his hitting streak to eight games and is batting .289 this season.
  • After blowing three saves in four chances, Tom Wilhelmsen has now recorded back-to-back saves and is 14-for-17 in save situations this season.
  • Catcher Jesus Sucre left in the fifth inning after taking a foul ball off the back of his left hand. He will be re-examined Wednesday to determine if he suffered a fracture.

UPCOMING PROBABLES

Date Day Opp. Probable Pitchers
6/5 Wed vs. CWS RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (6-1) vs. RHP Dylan Axelrod (3-3)
6/6 Thr vs. NYY RHP Aaron Harang (2-5) vs. RHP Phil Hughes (2-4)
6/7 Fri vs. NYY RHP Jeremy Bonderman (0-1) vs. RHP Hiroki Kuroda (6-4)
6/8 Sat vs. NYY LHP Joe Saunders (4-5) vs. LHP Andy Pettitte (4-3)
6/10 Sun vs. NYY RHP Felix Hernandez (7-4) vs. RHP David Phelps (3-3)

 


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