Follow us:

Mariners blog

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

March 13, 2013 at 12:56 PM

Game thread: Hisashi Iwakuma tries to stay grounded

Mariners pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma began day by notching three groundouts, this one on Billy Butler to end the first inning.

Mariners pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma began day by notching three groundouts, this one on Billy Butler to end the first inning.

Kyle Seager just tied the game 2-2 in the sixth with a single to right field that scored Robert Andino. Danny Hultzen came on to work the fifth for the Mariners in his first game action since that hip injury last week. Hultzen yielded a leadoff double to left center by Lorenzo Cain to start things off, but settled down and retired the side on a popout to shallow left a groundout to the shortstop and a flyout to left by Alex Gordon.

So, a good job escaping the jam. Hisashi Iwakuma needed only 47 pitches to get through his four innings today, so he’s throwing a few more in the bullpen.

2:05 p.m.: Hisashi Iwakuma didn’t get the same breaks in the fourth inning as he had the prior three frames and trails 2-1 after the Royals scored twice. KC wasn’t exactly pounding the ball, but some of the grounders had eyes and a big problem for him was all the runners who kept going from first to third. Iwakuma had retired nine straight before Alex Gordon reached on a hard grounder that deflected off the glove of diving second baseman Carlos Triunfel. Gordon then stole second and took third when the throw from catcher Kelly Shoppach went into center field.

Iwakuma got a popout to shallow center after that, but then Billy Butler lined one the other way through the right side to bring Gordon home and tie it. Mike Moustakas then hit a high chopper over the head of first baseman Michael Morse and into right field. The ball was rolling slowly enough that the sloth-like Butler was able to make it to third base on the play.

That was big because Salvador Perez then singled to center and Butler scored the second run.

Moustakas again went from first to third on the play, but Iwakuma got out of the inning on a 6-4-3 double-play grounder by Jeff Francoeur.

1:49 p.m.: This is the best I’ve ever seen Hisashi Iwakuma look in spring training. Also, outside of that 13-strikeout game versus Toronto last summer, this might be the best I’ve ever seen him pitch period. The Royals can’t hit the ball out of the infield on him today, going 1-2-3 again in the third on three quick groundouts. What impressed me the most is that Iwakuma used three different pitches to get the outs — a slider on Lorenzo Cain, a splitter to Endy Chavez and then a sinker on Chris Getz. That’s nine in a row retired — eight via grounders and one on a strikeout.

Iwakuma and the Mariners have a 1-0 lead after Carlos Triunfel took a 1-1 changeup from Ervin Santana and hit it over the left field wall in the top of the third.

1:31 p.m.: Yes, I’d say Hisashi Iwakuma is on a roll. He’s retired six in a row to start the game — five on groundouts and one on a strikeout. He fanned Mike Moustakas to open the second inning, then got Salvador Perez to ground out to the shortstop and Jeff Francoeur to ground out to third. These aren’t scrubs Iwakuma is facing. He’s seeing a good part of the regular Kansas City lineup.

1:22 p.m.: Hisashi Iwakuma had his stuff working in the first inning, notching a broken bat groundout to second by Alex Gordon, a slow chopper to third by Elliott Johnson and then an easy groundout to the shortstop by Billy Butler. We talked pregame about the keys to telling whether Iwakuma had the needed stuff on any particular day. Well, you just saw it.

Jason Bay takes first pitch of today's game from Ervin Santana prior to popping out.

Jason Bay takes first pitch of today’s game from Ervin Santana prior to popping out.

12:56 p.m.: You can tell when Hisashi Iwakuma is working his magic. His pitches will have good movement on them and either cause hitters to swing and miss, or the ball will be pounded into the ground.

When it isn’t working for him — like last spring — it’s the strike zone that gets missed and the baseball gets pounded plenty of places that have nothing to do with the ground. As I told Dick Fain this morning on Sports Radio KJR (below) the Mariners had better hope it’s the second-half Iwakuma who shows up on April 1 because this rotation has a whole lot riding on him.

This will be Iwakuma’s fourth outing this spring and his third start.

[do action=”kjr-embed” src=”http://www.sportsradiokjr.com/player/embed.html?autoStart=false&useFullScreen=true&mid=22977189&osu=null&startButtonColor=0xffffff”/]

In other news, we’ll see Jason Bay batting leadoff again. Not as sexy as a good buffalo commercial, but maybe a bit more intelligent.

 

March 13, 2013 – Surprise Stadium

Seattle Mariners (11-6)

 

Kansas City Royals (13-2-1)

No.

Player Pos.  

No.

Player Pos.

12

Jason Bay LF

4

Alex Gordon (L) LF

15

Kyle Seager (L) 3B

80

Elliot Johnson (S) SS

38

Michael Morse 1B

16

Billy Butler 1B

28

Raul Ibañez (L) DH

8

Mike Moustakas (L) 3B

55

Michael Saunders (L) CF

13

Salvador Perez C

7

Kelly Shoppach C

21

Jeff Francoeur DH

4

Carlos Peguero (L) RF

6

Lorenzo Cain CF

3

Robert Andino SS

32

Endy Chavez (L) RF

1

Carlos Triunfel 2B

17

Chris Getz (L) 2B

Starting Pitcher

Starting Pitcher

18

Hisashi Iwakuma RHP

54

Ervin Santana RHP

 

Comments | More in Cactus League | Topics: hisashi iwakuma; jason bay; dick fain; royals

COMMENTS

No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.



The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.


The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►