Franklin Gutierrez just hit a solo homer in the ninth to make it 8-0. Danny Farquhar will come on in the ninth after Hisashi Iwakuma four-hit the Tigers through eight scoreless innings. That’s 25 consecutive scoreless innings on the road by Iwakuma.
6:40 p.m.: Phil Coke replaced Justin Verlander after seven innings and looked about as bad as he did last night, giving up a one out, ground rule double to deepest center by Franklin Gutierrez, then, after an intentional walk, allowing an RBI single to Justin Smoak. Michael Saunders followed with a double to score another run and send Smoak to third. Nick Franklin was walked intentionally and then Al Albuquerque came on to pitch. He immediately uncorked a wild pitch to score the run from third and Saunders alertly scored all the way from second when catcher Alex Avila threw the ball away at the plate trying to nab the initial runner.
So, make it 7-0 for the Mariners midway through eight, with Hisashi Iwakuma working on a three-hit gem.
6:02 p.m.: Justin Smoak just launched a solo homer to left field off Justin Verlander in the sixth inning, giving the Mariners a 3-0 lead.
4:47 p.m.: The Mariners scored twice off Justin Verlander in the top of the second inning to take a 2-0 lead. Justin Smoak drew a leadoff walk, then scored all the way from first base as Michael Saunders doubled to left-center. That’s three extra-base hits in two nights for Saunders, a triple and two doubles. Nick Franklin then singled to left center to bring the second run home.
3:45 p.m.: Hisashi Iwakuma takes the mound tonight in a much-anticipated duel with Justin Verlander. The rule as always when facing Verlander is to get to him early. Let him get in a groove, you can pretty much forget about winning but it sometimes takes him an inning or two to find that rhythm.
As for Iwakuma, he’s become the team’s most dependable, consistent starter over the full season. And that’s saying something given how he began his Seattle career. Iwakuma embarked on an extensive strength and conditioning program in the off-season designed specifically to get him through the full six months and it’s paid off to this point. He’s felt stronger in recent outings than he did earlier on and that’s how you want any starting pitcher to be.
It’s a grind getting through the full MLB campaign, as the Mariners and some of their less-experienced hitters are finding out.
The Mariners have scored just 19 runs their last nine games, going 1-8 over that stretch. Kyle Seager is mired in a 2-for-38 batting slump over the last 11 games that has knocked his batting average from .283 down to .269 and his OPS from .819 down to .783.
Justin Smoak is 2-for-24 his last six games and 11-for-83 the last 3 1/2 weeks or so. His average is down from .261 to .245 and his OPS has dipped from .784 to .743.
The Mariners need the members of their younger core to step it up, or it’s going to be a very tough final two games of this series.