SEATTLE — With another big early lead and their All-Star pitcher on the mound, the Mariners seemed to have things right where they needed them.
Until, that is, Hisashi Iwakuma reverted back to early 2012 form and the balls began leaving the park at an alarming rate. Before the Mariners could blink, Iwakuma was out of the game and they were headed Tuesday night to an 11-8 loss to the Boston Red Sox that seemed like a solar-plexus shot to any momentum built up the past several days.
“For the most part, I was missing location-wise,” Iwakuma said through interpreter Antony Suzuki. “I caught too much of that part of the plate and that was the main issue today.”
By the time this onslaught of Seattle pitching was done, the Red Sox had pounded five home runs off the bats of David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Shane Victorino. Ortiz enjoyed a four-hit night and his single in the eighth off Charlie Furbush was his 1,688th hit as a designated hitter, tying Harold Baines for the all-time mark.
Ortiz even stole second off absent-minded relief pitcher Carter Capps — who failed to look the runner back to first — before scoring on a single.
The Mariners countered with a pair of home runs by Kendrys Morales, but it wasn’t enough to spare them and 21,072 fans at Safeco Field from Iwakuma’s latest long-ball adventures.
Iwakuma served up three homers in just three innings and has allowed 10 his last four outings. He’d given up just 10 all season to that point in piling up some impressive totals by early June that served as his All-Star springboard.
If this keeps up, his All-Star invitation will include a request to work the mound portion of the Home Run Derby as well.
“I think my pitches have caught too much of the plate the last couple of starts,” Iwakuma said. “I need to work on that. I know I have time to make some adjustments and that’s what we need to do.”
The Mariners had opened the night right where they’d let off on Monday as Morales took rookie Allen Webster over the wall in left-center for a two-run homer in the first inning. Ortiz responded with a solo shot off Iwakuma in the second to make it a 2-1 game, but the Mariners scored three more in the bottom of the frame on a bases-clearing double by Brad Miller.
That the Mariners later trailed after grabbing the 5-1 lead seemed stunning, given who was on the mound. But Iwakuma hasn’t won in a month and his earned-run average has jumped from a season-high 1.79 to 2.97 that span.
Iwakuma managed to finish the third inning, but his night was done.
“It was just some bad misses,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said of Iwakuma. “The home run has really hurt him the last four or five starts, whatever it’s been. He’s missing up and over the middle of the plate.”
Seattle still led, 7-6, after Kyle Seager hit a single and scored all the way from first base on a one-out Michael Saunders triple.
But eventual losing pitcher Blake Beavan replaced Iwakuma to start the fourth — having not pitched in nine days — and the rust showed as he hit Daniel Nava with an 0-2 pitch, walked a batter, then yielded a single to Pedroia that tied it 7-7.
Boston took the lead for good an inning later as Bradley drove a Beavan pitch over the wall in right-center to make it 8-7 for the visitors.
“Today, we just couldn’t get anybody out and guys struggled in the bullpen,” Wedge said. “They did, too, but when they went to their middle inning guys, they got guys out and that was the difference in the ballgame.”
Best DHs of all time
David Ortiz had four hits Tuesday to give him 1,688 as a designated hitter, tying Harold Baines for the career record.
Player Career hits Years
David Ortiz 1,688 1997-current
Harold Baines 1,688 1980-2001
Edgar Martinez 1,607 1987-2004