PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Phillies found out for the first time what most of baseball already knows — Hisashi Iwakuma is pretty darn good.
The Phillies came into the game Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park with just one player on the roster — Ben Revere — having faced Iwakuma before in a game.
They left the game frustrated and flabbergasted and without a run against Iwakuma.
The Mariners’ right-hander carved up the Phillies, tossing eight shutout innings, allowing four hits and leading Seattle to a 5-2 victory.
Iwakuma was dominant and efficient, throwing 96 pitches with a whopping 76 strikes. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out 11. He found a rhythm, got ahead of hitters, got outs and continued work at a steady pace for the entire outing to improve to 12-6 and lower his ERA to 2.57 on the season. Only one runner even reached second base against him.
But it was quite the opposite for Phillies starter A.J. Burnett, who pitched every bit like his 6-14 record and 4.42 ERA reflects. In a sign of things to come, Burnett walked Austin Jackson and Dustin Ackley to start the game. Both runners would come around to score with Jackson hustling home on a Robinson Cano ground ball to second and Ackley scoring on Logan Morrison’s run-scoring single up the middle.
It was the start of a 125-pitch night for Burnett that featured 75 strikes and one 1-2-3 inning. Still, Burnett managed to pitch his way out of the trouble for the next five innings before Kyle Seager took advantage of the lack of command to start sixth inning.
Seager, one of Seattle’s more patient hitters, took three pitches out of the zone for balls.
McClendon gave Seager the green light on a 3-0 count — something he’s done more than a few times this season. Seager rewarded the confidence by blasting a fastball deep into the right field seats for his team-high 19th homer of the season. This season, he’s 2-for-3 with two homers and five RBI when swinging on 3-0.
The Mariners added to their 3-0 lead in the eighth inning. Burnett hit Cano with a pitch to start the troubles. He later issued a one-out walk to Morrison. Endy Chavez moved the runners up a base with a hard ground ball that first baseman Ryan Howard couldn’t handle cleanly enough for a double play. With runners in scoring position, Mike Zunino gave the Mariners’ two insurance runs, singling through the left side and scoring both runners.
Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg finally ended the Burnett misery, pulling him after the Zunino single. Burnett’s pitching line didn’t lack for crooked numbers. He pitched 7 2/3 innings, giving up five runs on six hits with four walks, two hit batters and nine strikeouts.
In an attempt to get his relievers some work, McClendon went to Charlie Furbush and Yoervis Medina in the ninth inning. Neither was particularly sharp. Furbush walked Jimmy Rollins to start the inning. He got a ground ball for a fielder’s choice out and then struck out Ryan Howard for the second out. McClendon then brought in Medina to get the final out. He couldn’t do it. Medina gave up a single to Marlon Byrd, then later Chase Utley scored on a wild pitch. Domonic Brown doubled to right field to score Byrd and cut the lead to 5-2. After Medina hit Carlos Ruiz with a pitch, putting runners on first and second and the tying run at the plate, McClendon called on closer Fernando Rodney, who struck out Cody Asche to end the game. Rodney picked up his 36th save with that one out.