M’s Iwakuma quietly pitches another gem

ARLINGTON, Texas — Earlier in the day, MLB Network was being played throughout Globe Life Park in Arlington on assorted televisions, including the Mariners’ clubhouse. The network touted the outstanding starting pitching scheduled for the night.

They talked about Detroit’s hard-throwing ace Justin Verlander, analyzed the brilliant start of the Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka, they gushed about Royals phenom Yordano Ventura and his 100-mph fastball and they even talked about the Reds’ Johnny Cueto, who came into the night with a 1.25 ERA.

But Hisashi Iwakuma’s name wasn’t mentioned, even though the Mariners’ quiet right-hander was an All-Star last year and finished third in the Cy Young voting. Not getting mentioned shouldn’t be the case much longer.

Iwakuma went out and put together yet another solid start, helping the Mariners to a 6-2 victory over the Texas Rangers.

Iwakuma improved to 3-0 on the season, pitching eight strong innings, allowing two runs on six hits with a walk and three strikeouts. His ERA actually went up with the two runs allowed to 1.79. It was the first time in his career that he’s gone eight innings in three consecutive starts.

Iwakuma had his streak of 17 scoreless innings snapped in the second inning when Adrian Beltre ripped a line-drive solo homer over the left-field wall to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead.

The Mariners answered in the third inning, scoring four runs off Rangers starter Colby Lewis.

Brad Miller looped a single into left field and James Jones delivered a perfect drag bunt down the first baseline for a single. Michael Saunders scored Jones with a single to center.

The Rangers walked the hot-hitting Robinson Cano to load the bases. Lewis was able to strike out Justin Smoak, but Kyle Seager looped a little flare over the head of Beltre at third base and into left field. Jones and Saunders scored and Cano was able to go first to third on the bloop hit, getting a good read on the play. That heads-up running was worth another run as Nick Franklin hit a sacrifice fly into left field to score Cano.

The Mariners continued to tack on runs. Cano smoked a run-scoring single in the fourth inning to push the lead to 5-1.

Texas scratched another run across on Iwakuma in the bottom of the fourth on a run-scoring single from Alex Rios to make it 5-2.

But that was it. Iwakuma allowed just two hits over the next four innings.

The Mariners even gave him another run for cushion, not that he needed it. Dustin Ackley hit a low stinger of a line drive that rolled all way to the wall in left center, allowing Franklin to score from first.

Charlie Furbush and Danny Farquhuar, both of whom hadn’t pitched in a game in six days, got some work in the ninth inning to close it out.

The Mariners banged out 12 hits. Seager had three hits, including Seattle’s only extra base hit — a double. Franklin, Ackley and Cano had two hits each.


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