Hisashi Iwakuma pitched another splendid game Monday for his seventh win as the Mariners defeated Houston 3-2 to open a three-game series at Safeco Field.
GAME: Astros (22-43, 5th, AL West, -17.0 GB) at Mariners (28-37, 3rd, AL West, -11.0 GB). GAME #: 66. SERIES: 2nd of 3 games. MEETING: 8th (Astros lead 4-3). WHEN: Tuesday, 7:10 p.m., Safeco Field. STREAKS: Mariners W 1; Astros L 5. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network
Aaron Harang has an absurdly tough act to follow Tuesday night when the Mariners and Houston Astros continue their three-game series at Safeco Field. Monday, Hisashi Iwakuma argued successfully — again — that he is the most effective pitcher in Safeco Field history by throttling the Astros in Seattle’s 3-2 victory.
Iwakuma (7-1) allowed four hits, struck out eight and walked one, while reducing his ERA to 1.79, second-lowest in the majors behind Boston’s Clay Buchholz (1.71), and his WHIP to 0.81, best in the majors. Although Iwakuma had a 23.2-inning scoreless streak snapped, he extended to 28.0 the number of innings he’s thrown since he last allowed an earned run (third inning, May 26). For good measure, Iwakuma took over the MLB lead in WAR for pitchers (4.0).
After that performance — “He has a great heartbeat,” manager Eric Wedge said after the game — Iwakuma lowered his Safeco Field ERA to 0.92 (best home mark in the majors) in six starts. In the six, Iwakuma has fanned 46 and walked only three.
Iwakuma has now made 16 career starts and 24 overall appearances at Safeco Field and is 9-3, 1.89.
Harang hasn’t been nearly as effective at Safeco in his eight career starts (see below), but will face a Houston club that has lost five in a row following a season-high five-game winning streak. Harang, who got shredded by the Yankees his last time out, will oppose RHP Bud Norris, who defeated the Mariners April 23. A close look:
MARINERS: RHP Aaron Harang (2-6, 6.70 ERA, 1.40 WHIP)
The 35-year-old Harang, a San Diego native in his 12th major league season and first with Seattle, will make his 10th start and first against the Astros. After losing five of his first six starts, Harang put together effective back-to-back outings May 27 (shutout) and June 1, but then got taken apart by the Yankees the last time he got the ball, lasting just 2.1 innings. Harang has yielded 34 earned runs in 45.2 innings.
ASTROS: RHP Bud Norris (5-5, 3.43 WHIP, 1.47 WHIP)
The 28-year-old Norris, a Greenbrae, CA., native in his fifth major league season, all with Houston, will make his 14th start and second against the Mariners. Norris, who has already defeated Seattle once this season, has pitched into the seventh inning five times. He has won two of his past three decisions. The Astros selected Norris, who attended Cal Poly, in the sixth round of the 2006 amateur draft.
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
|6/11||Tue||vs. Hou||RHP Aaron Harang (2-6) vs. RHP Bud Norris (5-4)|
|6/12||Wed||vs. Hou||RHP Jeremy Bonderman (0-1) vs. RHP Jordan Lyles (3-1)|
|6/14||Fri||at Oak||LHP Joe Saunders () vs. TBA|
|6/15||Sat||at Oak||RHP Felix Hernandez (7-4) vs. TBA|
|6/16||Sun||at Oak||RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (6-1) vs. TBA|