SEATTLE — Hisashi Iwakuma hasn’t quite figured out the Boston Red Sox. The all-star right-hander has mowed down plenty of teams in his brief career in the big leagues. But the reigning World Series champs? Well, they do what few teams in baseball have done — hit Iwakuma and hit him hard.
The Red Sox roughed up Iwakuma on a perfect Wednesday night at Safeco Field, scoring five runs off him in four innings en route to a 5-4 win over the Seattle Mariners.
The loss snapped Seattle’s five-game winning streak and prevented a rare sweep of Boston.
Iwakuma pitched into the fourth inning, but never made it out, giving up five runs on eight hits with a walk and three strikeouts.
It was his shortest start of the season.
A year ago, the Red Sox saddled him with his shortest outing of the 2013 season. On July 9 at Safeco Field, Iwakuma lasted just three innings, allowing six runs on eight hits, including three homers in an 11-8 loss.
In three career starts against Boston, Iwakuma has pitched just 12 2/3 innings, giving up 12 earned runs on 24 hits for an 8.53 earned-run average.
Iwakuma struggled with his command from his very first pitch. He left a fastball over the middle of the plate to David Ortiz with a runner on first, which is never a good thing. Ortiz crushed the pitch off the scoreboard in right field for a two-run homer and a 2-0 first-inning lead.
Two of the Mariners’ hottest hitters answered for Iwakuma against Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz.
Kyle Seager blasted his 12th homer of the season — and 11th at Safeco — ripping a solo homer to right field. Following a Logan Morrison single, Mike Zunino hit his fourth homer in five games, ripping a line drive over the wall in left field for a two-run homer — his 11th of the season.
But Iwakuma couldn’t make the 3-2 lead stand up. He gave up three straight hits — a double to Jackie Bradley Jr. and singles to Brock Holt and Daniel Nava for the tying run.
His nemesis, well, many pitchers’ nemesis, Ortiz got to him again, giving the Red Sox the lead for good. Ortiz singled over right fielder Stefen Romero’s head, short-hopping the wall in right to score Holt.
In seven career at-bats against Iwakuma, Ortiz has four hits, including two homers and four RBI.
Iwakuma loaded the bases with no outs to start the fifth on two singles and a walk. With Ortiz coming to the plate again, manager Lloyd McClendon went to the bullpen, ending Iwakuma’s night. Tom Wilhelmsen came in and was able to get Ortiz to ground into a tough double play into the shift. Brad Miller fielded the ground ball about 15 feet on the second base side of the bag and had no one to throw to. Instead, he sprinted to second, stepped on the bag and threw to first off balance to get Ortiz. A run that was charged to Iwakuma scored, but it could have been worse.
Wilhelmsen struck out Jonny Gomes to end the inning.
Wilhelmsen and Brandon Maurer combined to keep the Red Sox at five runs. Wilhelmsen tossed three scoreless innings, allowing just two hits.
Maurer, who was called up before the game, showed that his new role as a reliever might be his calling. He pitched two scoreless innings, giving up one hit and striking out three batters with his fastball touching 99 mph.
Brad Miller made it a one-run game in the eighth inning, blasting a solo homer to right field to start the inning.
But the Mariners couldn’t tie it in the ninth. Seager delivered a one-out single off Red Sox closer Koji Uehara and Logan Morrison walked. But Uehara came back to strike out Zunino and got Dustin Ackley to ground out to end the game for his 16th save.
Buchholz (3-4) got the win, going 7 1/3 innings and giving up four runs on seven hits with two strikeouts.
Mariners 8, Red Sox 2
Lloyd McClendon wouldn’t listen to any talk of Safeco Field being a hitter’s wasteland. Before the game Tuesday against the Red Sox, the Mariners manager shrugged off the notion.
On a warm, short-sleeve summer night, the Mariners made Safeco Field look like a hitter’s paradise, driving baseballs all over the park in a 8-2 victory over Boston.
After scoring 12 runs on Monday, Seattle hitters bashed a pair of deep home runs and banged out three more extra-base hits and 10 total hits, looking nothing like the team that had struggled to score runs at home for much of the season.
The Mariners broke the game open in the fifth inning, turning a 3-2 lead into a 7-2 snoozer. With one out and runners on first and second, Seager continued his one-man pursuit to prove that Safeco can be friendly to hitters. Seager jumped on a low cut fastball from Red Sox starter Jake Peavy, golfing a towering fly ball that stayed just inside the right-field foul pole and ricocheted off the windows of the Hit it Here Cafe in the upper deck.