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Mariners blog

Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

April 21, 2012 at 12:19 PM

Saturday’s pre-game Mariner notes

Munenori Kawasaki was to start at shortstop Saturday against the White Sox, and without knowing how he might fare, M’s manager Eric Wedge had a bit of a smile on his face when asked about the bounce in Kawasaki’s step.
Kawasaki, the 165-pound shortstop, is the original pepperpot, even as he had just two hits in his first 13 at-bats entering the game.
“It’s always fun to be around somebody who really, truly enjoys the game, being around, being on the diamond with his teammates,” said Wedge. “He’s a good player, too.
“Energy is big in this game, playing every day, with all the ups and downs and all the failure involved in it.”
Iwakuma’s role
Hisashi Iwakuma, Mariner reliever, became the last player on a major-league roster to see action when he got in four long-relief innings Friday night after Hector Noesi was shelled (not counting players not optioned out or injured). As Wedge explains it, the M’s haven’t had a big need for long relief, and he was reluctant to give Iwakuma work for fear he might have a need in the next game.
Iwakuma pitched four innings and allowed a single hit, a homer by Adam Dunn.
“You (media and fans) wonder why you save Iwakuma and he doesn’t pitch for awhile,” said Wedge. “Because we’ve been ‘in’ every game. I’m here to tell you, the way this sport is, you try to get him for an inning, and chances are your starter is going to get blown up and you end up running through everybody else that you don’t want to pitch.”
Indeed, the M’s entered the day with nine quality starts (six innings of three runs or fewer), second in the American League to Texas’ 10.
And What’s More . . .
— For a team that hasn’t made a whole lot of noise the past couple of seasons, the White Sox have been a huge nemesis for the M’s. They were 17-3 entering Saturday’s game, including six straight victories at Safeco.
— Seattle wasn’t figured to be much of a power-hitting club, and that’s been reflected in the club leaders in homers – Justin Smoak and Jesus Montero with two each. But over the past two games, the M’s have nine extra-base hits among their 14 hits. Lately, though they’ve been dogged by failures in key spots, hitting just 3 of 29 (.103) with runners in scoring position their last three games – after batting .291 in that spot in their first 12.
— If it seems like Felix Hernandez is dogged by continual lack of run support, it’s not just a suspicion. Since 2005, the year he broke in, he has gone seven innings and allowed a run or none 16 times, most in baseball. Cliff Lee of Philly and Dan Haren of the Angels are second with 14.

Comments | Topics: Hisashi Iwakuma, Jesus Montero

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