In past years, you’d look at this upcoming Orioles series and think that the Mariners have a good shot at winning the series. Well this year, things are a little different as the Orioles came into today’s game second in the AL East.
Hisashi Iwakuma (whose name I can never seem to remember how to spell) took the mound for the Mariners tonight since Kevin Millwood is out injured. Iwakuma had only 30.1 innings coming into today and had yet to make a start. Many though Iwakuma would break camp in the rotation but he is just now getting his first start. Iwakuma got into some trouble in the first walking Matt Wieters with two outs and giving up a double to Chris Davis after. He was able to get out of the two out jam and then settled down in the second with a 1-2-3 inning.
The Mariners got Iwakuma some run support in the third. Chone Figgins started again today and he kicked off the third with an infield single. Eric Wedge really surprised people with his next move when he had Munenori Kawasaki sacrifice bunt Figgins over to third. It was a strange call because the game was only in the third and you have Brendan Ryan up next who, as we all know, is not the most dangerous hitter. Ryan came up big though and made Wedge look like a genius when he picked up a base hit, bringing Figgins in for the first run of the game.
Iwakuma wasn’t able to hold the lead long though as the home run ball hurt him in the top of the fourth. The newest Oriole, Jim Thome, opened up the inning with a base hit and Wieters followed him up with a walk. Well Chris Davis stepped up and took Iwakuma deep to right, hitting a three run homer. That would be all the damage Iwakuma would give up on the night though. He would be pulled after the fifth inning and his final line was 5IP 3ER 3H 3BB and 4K. He now has a 4.84 ERA and a 5.71 FIP. Iwakuma may see another start with Erasmo Ramirez headed to the DL but Millwood is hoping to make his next start.
Steve Delabar entered the game in the 6th and he had himself a solid outing. He had a scoreless two innings and struck out three. He now has an impressive 11.75 K/9 which is one of the best K/9 amongst qualified relievers in the American League. I was at Cheney Wednesday – Friday last week and Delabar pitched for the Rainiers. He was called up Friday and I was talking to some of the scouts who had been there all series and they were surprised Delabar got called. One of them actually wrote him off all together.
The Mariners really rallied in the 7th, reclaiming the lead. Dustin Ackley lead off the inning with a walk (which he needs to start doing more) and followed that up by stealing second. Kawasaki moved Ackley to third on a base hit and later, Ichiro picked up a 2 out walk to load the bases. Casper Wells came up huge, clearing the bases with a double giving the Mariners a 4-3 lead. He’s been playing well since his call up, raising his average to .263 and his OBP to .340.
Shawn Kelley who has been pitching well as of late, entered the game in the 7th and he was lights out. He had a 1-2-3 inning, striking out two. The Mariners got some insurance in the 8th on a pair of homeruns. Miguel Olivo hit a one out homerun to left and Dustin Ackley followed him up with a homerun to right, directly after. I wonder how many back to back homeruns the Mariners have had this year? I can’t imagine it’s been many.
Tom Wilhelmsen entered the game in the 9th, and the Bartender was good as always. He struck out the lead off hitter but then followed that up with a walk. No need to worry though as he got the next batter to ground into a game ending double play for his 7th save of the year.
Casper Wells and Miguel Olivo each had good games as each went 2-4 at the plate. It was nice to see the bullpen continue to pitch well as they did not give up a run, allowed zero (!) hits, and sturck out 7 in 6 combined innings. Felix is on the mound tomorrow for the Mariners as he goes up against Wei-Yin Chen.
In other news, the Mariners signed top draft pick Mike Zunino to a reported $4 million bonus. Danny Hultzen is making his third AAA start tomorrow and it comes at home. I hope I will be there tomorrow to scout Hultzen. If you haven’t yet, make sure you check out my scouting report and video of Hultzen from his home AAA debut. I also uploaded the video I got of Nick Franklin over the series which can be found here. I’ll have a scouting report up on him in the next couple of days.