BY SPNW Staff 06:30AM 06/16/2013

#70: Mariners Eye Rare Sweep In Oakland

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.

Second baseman Nick Franklin and the Mariners will close out their three-game series with Oakland Sunday after scoring a 4-0 win Saturday on Henry Blanco’s remarkable sixth-inning grand slam. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

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:

SUNDAY’S PROBABLES

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.

  • LAST START: June 10 at Safeco Field, won 3-2; 0 earned runs on 4 hits in 7.0 innings; 8 strikeouts, 1 walk, 0 home runs, 105 pitches, 73 for strikes.
  • LAST VS. ATHLETICS: May 10 at Seattle, won 6-3; 2 earned runs on 4 hits in 7.0 innings; 9 strikeouts, 0 walks, 0 home runs, 95 pitches, 68 for strikes.
  • CAREER VS. ATHLETICS: 2-2, 3.54 ERA in 4 games, including 3 starts, covering 20.1 innings; 22 strikeouts, 4 walks, 3 home runs, 0.83 WHIP.
  • AT O.COM COLISEUM: 1-0, 1.50 ERA in 1 start covering 6.0 innings; 7 strikeouts, 0 walks, 0 home runs, 0.33 WHIP.
  • LOVES TO FACE: Seth Smith (0-for-7, .000), Coco Crisp (1-for-7, .143), Jed Lowrie (1-for-5, .200).
  • HATES TO FACE: Eric Sogard (2-for-4, .500), Yoenis Cespedes (3-for-9, .333), John Jaso (2-for-6, .333).
  • CURRENT ATHLETICS VS. IWAKUMA: 10-for-60, .167 BA, 17 strikeouts, 3 walks, 2 home runs, .206 on-base percentage.

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.

  • LAST START: June 11 vs. New York, won 6-4; 0 earned runs on 3 hits in 6.0 innings; 3 strikeouts, 4 walks, 0 home runs, 102 pitches, 66 for strikes.
  • LAST VS. MARINERS: July 8, 2012, took a no-decision in Oakland’s 2-1 victory; 1 earned run on 7 hits in 8.2 innings; 5 strikeouts, 0 walks, 0 home runs, 93 pitches, 79 for strikes.
  • CAREER VS. MARINERS: 16-12, 3.97 ERA in 33 starts covering 208.2 innings; 142 strikeouts, 47 walks, 18 home runs, 1.20 WHIP.
  • AT O.COM COLISEUM: 12-7, 3.09 ERA in 26 starts covering 163.0 innings; 93 strikeouts, 23 walks, 14 home runs, 1.02 WHIP.
  • LOVES TO FACE: Brendan Ryan (0-for-8, .000), Kendrys Morales (1-for-11, .091), Jason Bay (1-for-5, .200).
  • HATES TO FACE: Endy Chavez (2-for-6, .333), Raul Ibanez (18-for-61, .295).
  • CURRENT MARINERS VS. COLON: 39-for-164, .238 BA, 39 strikeouts, 7 walks, 2 home runs, .267 on-base percentage.

MARINERS STATS / NOTES

  • CURRENT ROAD TRIP: Three at Oakland (Friday-Sunday), four at L.A. Angels (Monday-Thursday). Following the road trip, the Mariners will return to Safeco Field for a three-game series with the Athletics June 21-23. Seattle’s next home stand also features visits by the Pittsburgh Pirates (June 25-26) and Chicago Cubs (June 28-30).
  • Manager Eric Wedge said Saturday that there is a possibility Justin Smoak could rejoin the Mariners during the club’s next series, at Anaheim against the Angels Monday through Thursday. Smoak, currently with AAA Tacoma, is recovering from a right oblique strain.
  • Newly acquired catcher Henry Blanco, a veteran who had played with 11 major league teams, made his debut behind the plate Saturday and belted the aforementioned game-winning grand slam. Blanco, who caught Felix Hernandez, also caught Hernandez during the World Baseball Classic when they represented Venezuela. Wedge said rookie Mike Zunino will return to the lineup Sunday.
  • Blanco’s grand slam at age 41 — he turns 42 Aug. 29 — makes him the oldest Mariner to hit one. In 2001, Edgar Martinez hit a grand slam at 38 years, 220 days — the previous-oldest Seattle player before Raul Ibanez(40 years, 347 days) and Blanco this season.
  • Seattle’s starting pitchers have recorded eight consecutive quality starts since June 7, including Hernandez’s Saturday.

UPCOMING PROBABLES

Date Day Opp. Probable Pitchers
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

 


YourThoughts

  • maqman

    This series could be a great morale booster for the players and fans if Kuma can keep on keeping on and they sweep the As and a good lead-in to the important 4-game set with the LAAofAs. Fingers crossed. The Ms have endured a lot of injuries, bad performances and rotten luck, they are overdue for some pay back.

  • jafabian

    The rotation is starting to come around. Harang, Saunders and Bonderman are becoming more consistent. The bullpen still needs some work. Everything can’t be on Wilhelmsen and that’s caught up with him.