Iwakuma’s Eight Shutout Innings Lead Mariners Past Royals


May 8, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma (18) is congratulated by teammates in the dugout after getting the final out against the Kansas City Royals in the eighth inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

We’re all feeling pretty good about the Seattle Mariners right now. Or maybe it’s better put this way – we are currently justified in feeling good about the Mariners, if that’s a thing we dare to do. The team’s hot streak rages on, most recently manifesting in a 1-0 victory over the Kansas City Royals. On some levels, this game was a horrible failure. But the Mariners won despite their horrific offensive struggles, and for that we thank Hisashi Iwakuma.

Iwakuma’s return from the disabled list doesn’t perfectly coincide with the turning of the team’s fortunes, and it doesn’t make much sense to suggest the two events are even that closely linked. What does make sense is to suggest that the Mariners performance going forward should be better than it was before they welcomed one of the AL’s best starters back to their rotation, as this team is simply much better with Iwakuma taking the hill every fifth day. His first start was rocky, but at least he was back. Last night was his second start. Now he’s back, as in back to being amazing.

Over eight shutout innings, Iwakuma struck out seven Royals and didn’t walk a soul. He scattered four hits, all singles, and never let a runner advance past first base. Alex Gordon tried to steal second and was thrown out, and that was as good as the Royals offense got. He did all this on only 93 pitches. This was close to a picture-perfect outing, especially coming so soon after an injury that swallowed up the whole month of April. Welcome back, Hisashi Iwakuma. We’ve missed you.

Danny Duffy got the start for the Royals, and while I’ve always been a big fan, a serious arm injury a few years back has essentially forced him to appear mostly as a reliever. Getting just his second start of the season last night, Duffy was effectively wild in holding the M’s to one run over six innings. Four K’s, three walks, and two hits. Those were the M’s only two hits on the night, as the team nearly outsucked a punchless Royals offense. All the fun came in the third inning. Mike Zunino doubled and Corey Hart drove him home. Aside from that the offense did actual nothing. No things whatsoever. It’s so fun when the Mariners do that.

On one side of the ball, this was a terrifyingly poor peformance. On the other, it was amazing. One man is responsible for almost all of the good, while we now get to feel renewed terror about this potentially inept lineup. Robinson Cano didn’t hit any home runs, as usual. Brad Miller looked like a broken pile of crap, as usual. This was a particularly unencouraging dominant win, as far as those go. The Mariners will try to do more good things tonight in Seattle, with Brandon Maurer going up against Jason Vargas and his four-year contract. The Royals have no idea how to build a baseball team, and that’s cute. 7:10 start time.

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