Hisashi Iwakuma is back in force. After missing April with a finger injury, the Seattle Mariners co-ace and de facto number two is off to a crazy start to his 2014. He was pulled after less than eight innings in his first start, which is the only time this season Iwakuma’s not gone eight innings. Which is to say, he went eight innings tonight for the third straight start. He did it with 99 pitches, and allowed only two runs along the way. For the third straight outing, Iwakuma threw eight brilliant innings. For the second straight season, Iwakuma is pitching like an ace.
Let’s look at his overall line on the night: eight innings, three strikeouts, a walk, a homer, six hits, and two runs, both earned. Kuma got ten outs on the ground and only one in the air. Adrian Beltre‘s homer leading off the second was his only real mistake, though the walk he issued to Elvis Andrus did come back to haunt him when singles from Beltre and Alex Rios plated the Rangers second and final run.
Aside from the walk and the dinger, everything that Iwakuma did screamed ace. Not a lot of strikeouts, sure, but that’s a petty quabble when guys are pounding the ball into the ground. Iwakuma’s great. Tonight, he was great. This isn’t unusual, but that doesn’t mean it’s not awesome.
Kyle Seager led the offense with three hits, including a two-run single in the third and a double in the seventh. Robinson Cano had a pair of singles, including a two-out RBI in the fourth. Dustin Ackley had a two hit game, including an RBI double. This was a game of baseball in which multiple Mariners position players had multi-hit games. Woah. Nick Franklin had a two hit game!
Wait a minute… Nick Franklin? Franklin’s back, having been recalled from AAA earlier in the day. Brad Miller had a hit, which, wait, Brad Miller had a hit, and double wait, Miller AND Franklin are here? Corey Hart‘s on the DL, is why all of this is happening. Hart’s hamstring is going to keep him out at least a month, and all of a sudden Miller’s presumed replacement in the lineup is now the starting DH.
We’ll see how this plays out. Hart’s not going to be back for a while, and neither is Logan Morrison. Chris Taylor‘s out for little bit, and Kendrys Morales is still lurking the open market. Stephen Drew signed with the Red Sox today, making Morales the last man standing of the woebegone qualified offer free agents. Morales to Seattle seems a lot more possible now than it did this morning, so maybe that’s the answer the M’s will choose. In the short term, Miller’s spot in the lineup looks safe. In addition to his single today he also walked, and maybe he just turned a corner and will never look back. Maybe.