Make it six losses in the last seven games for the Mariners, despite the best efforts of Hisashi Iwakuma today. Iwakuma looked as strong as ever the first three innings when he retired nine in a row on eight grounders and a strikeout. He gave up his only two runs of the game on four hits in the fourth inning — one on a grounder just out of Carlos Triunfel’s reach and another on a high chopper over the first baseman’s head.
In the end though, Iwakuma needed just 47 pitches to get through the four frames and left trailing by a run. The Mariners wound up tying the game in the sixth on a Kyle Seager single, but fell behind to stay for good in the bottom of the inning of what became a 4-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals in Surprise, Ariz. The Royals scored the decisive run off Tom Wilhelmsen in the sixth when Elliot Johnson led off with a triple to the right field corner and later came home on Xavier Nady’s single to right.
Kansas City added a final run off Charlie Furbush in the seventh on doubles by Willie Taveras and David Lough. Seager wound up with two of Seattle’s four hits on the day, the others going to Carlos Triunfel on a solo homer and Raul Ibanez on a single.
Afterwards, Mariners manager Eric Wedge had plenty of good things to say about Iwakuma and all those ground balls he kept generating.
“He has a lot of action on his pitches,” Wedge said. “Not just a fastball and sinker. You look at his secondary stuff and how he uses it and how he pitches. He pitches with a lot of presence out there. He has a lot of experience and it shows.”
Mariners prospect Danny Hultzen also got into the game, his first action since suffering that slight hip injury last week. He made a mistake on an 0-2 curveball to Lorenzo Cain that was supposed to be in the dirt but instead stayed up and was drilled to the gap for a leadoff double.
But Hultzen was able to recover and retire the side in order without giving up a run.
“I tried to not dwell on it,” he said of the double. “In recent history, I’ve been thinking back too much so I tried to just forget about it and move on.”
As for the hip, it isn’t back to 100 percent just yet, but it’s good enough to pitch on. Hultzen plans to keep doing preventative work on it.
“It’s still tough to full-out spring, but I can still run to first and that’s about all I have to do,” he said. “So, that’s a good sign. I don’t need to run the bases or anything.”
Stephen Pryor had a big eighth inning, striking out the side. George Kottaras, Jeff Francoeur and Jarrod Dyson — all big leaguers — were his victims.
Jason Bay went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts out of the leadoff spot. He’s 0-for-6 there in two games and I’m thinking this little experiment might not last all that much longer. In Bay’s defense, Royals starter Ervin Santana had really good stuff today.
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