Seattle’s yo-yo month continued with another win to follow another loss, this time riding eight scoreless innings from starter Hisashi Iwakuma to beat the Angels 5-0 Friday night (box score) at Safeco Field in front of 40,765. At 40-46, the Mariners are seven games back of AL West-leading Houston.
3B Kyle Seager made several nice defensive plays, but the play of the night had to be RF Nelson Cruz’s diving catch with the bases loaded to end the first inning. Iwakuma was in all sorts of trouble, loading the bases with no outs, but the Mariners escaped – thanks in large part to the catch that saved at least two runs.
Anyone who saw Iwakuma walk the first batter and follow that by serving up back-to-back singles was probably expecting an Angels rout. But the veteran recovered from the shaky first to allow just two baserunners the rest of the way; neither got past first base. In his second start off the disabled list, Iwakuma looked in fine form.
Take your pick. Bobblehead Cruz went 3-for-3, red-hot Mark Trumbo had a pair of RBI singles, and 3B Kyle Seager reached base four times, scoring twice. The Mariners could have done a lot more damage – they loaded the bases three times in the first five innings, but with Iwakuma throwing bagels, it wasn’t necessary.
“It’s been a tough year, but I need to make up for what I’ve lost.” – RHP Hisashi Iwakuma, through interpreter Antony Suzuki
CF Austin Jackson (back spasms) was back after missing two consecutive games . . . Seattle dodged a bullet in the fifth when 2B Robinson Cano took a ball to the head for the second time in two weeks but came away without much damage. Cano was drilled in the helmet by a C.J. Wilson pitch but he recoiled in time and stayed in the game . . . Longtime Marines fan Evelyn Jones, a 108-year-old Woodinville resident, “threw out” the ceremonial first pitch Saturday, making her the oldest person to do it. Jones, celebrating her birthday, made an underhand toss to Felix Hernandez from about three feet while steadying herself on a walker. She got a standing ovation and a birthday cake for her achievement . . . Iwakuma walked the first batter, a rare occurrence that happened only once last season: in the 28th of his 28 starts in 2014.
The Mariners finish off the unofficial first half of the season – they’ve already played 88 games, but who’s counting? – with an afternoon game against the Angels. RHP Taijuan Walker (7-6, 4.53 ERA) is scheduled, while young lefty Andrew Heaney (2-0, 1.77 ERA) is slated to start for Los Angeles. The All-Star break begins Monday.