Iwakuma leads Mariners past Angels 7-4
Hisashi Iwakuma pitched seven solid innings, allowing six hits and three runs, as the Mariners snapped a five-game losing streak.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Mariners @ L.A. Angels, 12:35 p.m., ROOT Sports
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Hisashi Iwakuma didn't end up needing all the runs his team piled up for him early.
The Japanese pitcher was hitting his spots and generating enough ground balls in this Saturday-night start to do away with the Los Angeles Angels all by himself. If anything, the run support generated by the Mariners in an eventual 7-4 win merely made it easier for Iwakuma to keep on doing what he had been since the game was scoreless.
And it all added up to one of the better all-around victories by the Mariners, both from the mound and at the plate, that they'd managed in several weeks.
"It's a big thing to see them score like that," Iwakuma said through interpreter Daisuke Sekiba. "It really helped me pitch a good game."
Perhaps, but Iwakuma was already on his way to doing that even before Seattle scored three in the second inning, one more in the third and three more in the fourth inning to chase Angels starter Dan Haren. John Jaso hit his second home run in as many nights and drove in another with a single, while Dustin Ackley, Miguel Olivo and Trayvon Robinson all had two-hit games to pace a relentless early Seattle attack.
The Mariners looked so dominant early that the crowd of 38,722 at Angel Stadium took to booing the home side when Jaso's single off reliever Jerome Williams made it a 7-0 game in the fourth. Iwakuma retired his first seven batters and had allowed only a run on four singles entering the eighth.
Vernon Wells soon ended his night that frame with a two-run homer on Iwakuma's 86th pitch. But it was far too late for the Angels to mount a comeback by then, or when Kendrys Morales added a solo homer off Tom Wilhelmsen in the ninth.
The Mariners snapped their five-game losing streak, winning for the first time since Felix Hernandez threw a two-hit shutout in New York. But that game, while a gem for Hernandez, was not nearly the complete team effort this one was.
Nor were any of the seven consecutive wins posted at home by Seattle against Toronto and Kansas City squads far inferior to the Angels. The game wasn't nearly as close as the final score indicated, especially considering how Olivo had a two-run homer stolen from him by a leaping Mike Trout in the eighth.
The Mariners struck out only twice, and while they didn't score after the fourth, they kept hitting into hard outs.
"We didn't let up," said Robinson, who reached base three times and scored twice. "Whenever we get a chance, an opportunity, you've got to take it."
Robinson did just that in the three-run fourth inning. Olivo had opened with an infield single, took second on a throwing error, then scampered to third on a wild pitch.
After Robinson walked to put runners at the corners, he promptly stole second.
"You want to keep the double play out of order," Robinson said. "There's more of a chance then that Brendan Ryan can get a pitch up and we can cash in on it."
That's exactly what happened next as Ryan hit a sacrifice fly. Robinson took third and later scored when Albert Pujols let an Ackley grounder through his legs for an error.
Jaso later singled to bring Ackley home. It was his second run batted in on the night and his fifth in the series.
"I feel comfortable here," he said, "and I think a lot of it is just that I have the right mindset when I come here and hit."
Jaso had popped out in a prior at-bat against Haren on an elevated fastball. When Haren threw him the same pitch in the fourth, Jaso didn't miss it.
The way Iwakuma was pitching, the 4-0 lead Jaso's homer provided looked like it would be more than enough. Iwakuma made some mechanical tweaks between starts and did a much better job of keeping his pitches down.
It added up to one of those rare games in which the Mariners were in control all the way.
"We were talking about it last night, about all areas of your club getting it done and that's what you saw," Wedge said. "We did a better job of scoring in multiple innings, got some big hits, some two-out RBI... when you play like that, you can beat anybody."
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or firstname.lastname@example.org