Hisashi Iwakuma will bring a 7-1 record, 1.79 ERA and 0.81 WHIP into Sunday afternoon’s game against Bartolo Colon and the first-place Oakland Athletics.
GAME: Mariners (31-38, 3rd, AL West, -9.5 GB) at Athletics (41-29, 1st, AL West, +2.0 GA). GAME #: 70. SERIES: 3rd of 3 games. MEETING: 10th (Mariners lead 6-3). WHEN: Sunday, 1:05 p.m., O.com Coliseum. STREAKS: Mariners W 2; Athletics L 2. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network
When former Mariner Randy Johnson (1989-98) enters the Hall of Fame, probably in 2014, he will do so with 303 career victories, 4,875 strikeouts, 100 complete games, 10-All-Star selections, five Cy Young awards and a World Series ring (2001). The Big Unit will also tote into Cooperstown a career WHIP (walks + hits / IP) of 1.25. It’s the WHIP numbers The Unit compiled during his five Cy Young seasons that interests us here.
Johnson won his first Cy Young, with the Mariners in 1995, his 18-2 record and 2.48 ERA, translating into a WHIP of 1.04. Johnson followed with Cy Youngs in Arizona in 1999 (1.02 WHIP), 2000 (1.11), 2001 (1.00) and 2002 (1.03). But it wasn’t until 2004 that he had his best single-season WHIP, 0.90.
Now we have Hisashi Iwakuma, who is nothing like Johnson was, but is a pitcher with a WHIP that currently outshines all of Johnson’s at 0.81. The last time a pitcher finished a season with a lower WHIP than that: 2001, when Boston’s Pedro Martinez posted a 0.73.
Of course, Iwakuma could go Jeff Weaver on us at any moment, but if he stays on form he is in the process of putting together one of the great seasons in recent MLB history. Sunday, he’ll try to push his record to 8-1, and to do it he’ll have to out pitch Bartolo Colon, whom the Mariners haven’t seen in nearly a year due to the 50-game drug suspension he served last season.
Colon is historically tough on the Mariners — 16-12, 3.97 in 33 starts. Plus, he’ll come armed with a five-game winning streak, during which he allowed just three earned runs, into the final game of the three-game series at O.com Coliseum.
A closer look at a game in which the Mariners have a chance to record their first sweep in Oakland since April 10-12, 2009:
MARINERS: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (7-1, 1.79 ERA, 0.81 WHIP)
The 32-year-old Iwakuma, a Tokyo native in his second major league season, both with Seattle, will make his 15th start and third against the Athletics. Iwakuma, bidding for his first American League All-Star appearance, has already defeated the Athletics twice this season , has won five consecutive decisions, and is the MLB leader in WAR for pitchers (4.0) and WHIP (0.81). He also ranks second in ERA (1.79). Iwakuma is coming off a 3-2 win over the Houston Astros June 10.
ATHLETICS: RHP Bartolo Colon (8-2, .401 ERA, 1.09 WHIP)
The 40-year-old Colon, a Dominican native in his 16th major league season and third with Oakland, will make his 14th start and first against the Mariners. A 179-game winner, Colon missed most of last season due to a drug suspension, but has come back this year with one of the best starts to a season in his career. He will enter Sunday’s game riding a five-game winning streak during which he has allowed only three earned runs. Colon has 16 wins against the Mariners, three shy of the 19 he has against Texas.
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
|6/16||Sun||at Oak||RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (7-1) vs. RHP Bartolo Colon (8-2)|
|6/17||Mon||at LAA||RHP Aaron Harang (3-6) vs. LHP Jason Vargas (5-4)|
|6/18||Tue||at LAA||RHP Jeremy Bonderman (1-1) vs. TBA|