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July 2, 2012 at 11:00 PM

Mariners used a team effort for the win tonight with an odd lineup

This wasn’t exactly the scariest lineup the Mariners could have dreamed up. It featured Chone Figgins, Munenori Kawasaki and Brendan Ryan at the bottom of the order and yet all three of those guys did some things tonight.
So did Hisashi Iwakuma. I should mention here that the presence of Iwakuma, Ichiro and Kawasaki on the field at the same time was the first time you’ve ever had three Japanese players in the same starting lineup in major league history.
And all three contributed.
Kawasaki got the bunt down — on his own, it turns out — to move Figgins into scoring position in the third where Ryan cashed him in with a single. Then, in the big seventh inning, Kawasaki singled ahead of the Wells double. Don’t forget that Ichiro also drew an important two-out walk that frame to load the bases.
And having the bases full, instead of runners at first and third, changed the entire complexion of the Wells at-bat. Wells was waiting on a Jason Hammel slider and drilled it into right center.
“I saw quite a bunch of those,” Wells said. “He’s got a pretty good one. He left it up. I knew he was going to be around the strike zone. There was nowhere else to go. The bases were pretty jam-packed there.”
Exactly. He knew Hammel couldn’t nibble and waited for a pitch he could hit.
Iwakuma, as I mentioned looked OK for his five innings. He said the presence of the two other Japanese players in the lineup inspired him to do well.
In discussing his performance, he mentioned that he’s noticed an improvement in the quality of his pitches since being banished to the bullpen back in spring training.
“My fastball is better than in spring training,” he said, through interpreter Daisuke Sekeiba. “And my breaking balls move better, I think, so it feels much better to pitch.”

Anyhow, it will be interesting to see how Iwakuma responds if he stretches out a bit, He was limited to about 70 pitches tonight and was pulled after throwing 71 through five. There was that home run by Chris Davis on the mistake pitch, but otherwise, he gave his team a chance to win.
“It was good to see the club step up the way they did without a couple of guys due to injury, sickness and because we felt like we needed to sit down a couple of guys,” Wedge said. “It starts with Iwakuma. I thought he did a real nice job today. One bad pitch got him but he settled down and kept pitching after that.
“A lot of people asked me what I expected from him and I said ‘Just a chance for us to win the ballgame.’ ”
And that’s exactly what Iwakuma did. And for once, the Mariners capitalized.
“When you get a starter late in the ballgame there, you’re hoping that maybe you get a mistake or a pitch to hit and we got a couple of those,” Wedge said. “But the fact of the matter is, you’ve still have to hit them. And that’s been our biggest issue.”
Not tonight. Wells delivered, as did Miguel Olivo and Dustin Ackley with the solo homers in the eighth. It was Ackley’s first homer in over a month and his first at Safeco Field in almost a year dating back to last July 30.
So, the Mariners will take it.

Comments | Topics: Brendan Ryan, Chone Figgins, Hisashi Iwakuma


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