Dustin Ackley contributing with his glove
Second baseman among league leaders in two categories
Seattle Times staff reporter
Mariners second baseman Dustin Ackley didn't have a hit the final two games of this series, but still found a way to help win games with his glove.
Ackley turned a crucial eighth-inning out with a ground-ball stop and shovel flip to second with two men on Tuesday. Then Wednesday, he raced back fairly deep on the grass in right center to make an over-the-shoulder snag of a Lou Marson pop-up to start the seventh inning with the game tied.
"I knew it was going to be well over my head and I just turned around and started running," Ackley said. "When I picked the ball back up, it was kind of tailing a little bit to my right. At the last second, I kind of threw the glove up there, and fortunately it went in there."
Ackley has had a tough time at the plate this season, with his current 0-for-9 drought taking his average down to .228. But he currently sits in the top two among American League second basemen in two key advanced defensive metrics known as Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) and Defensive Runs Saved (DRS).
He began the day with a UZR of 8.9 to lead all AL second basemen, and his DRS of 13 trails only the 14 of Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees.
"You see it on the other end, too," Ackley said of the visiting Cleveland Indians. "They're out there diving for balls. I mean, that's an important part of the game. If any of those balls fall, you can have a big inning and the game might change. So, those are definitely important plays out there."
Hisashi Iwakuma says he's finally ensconced in the routine of a regular major-league starting pitcher and continues to show it with his results. Iwakuma has lost just once in his past five outings and left the game Wednesday with a 1-0 lead in the sixth before a two-out dribbler up the line by Casey Kotchman against reliever Oliver Perez tied it.
Iwakuma notched five more strikeouts and did not allow a home run for the second consecutive game after doing so in each of his 10 previous outings. Most important in this game, he notched three double plays in the first four innings to escape multiple jams.
"When I needed to get a double play, I was able to throw whatever I wanted and get a ground ball," Iwakuma said, through interpreter Daisuke Sekiba. "I had good location and control, and so I had success getting ground balls."
Iwakuma will be a free agent next season and says the Mariners have yet to approach him about signing on in Seattle again.
"I want to play for the Mariners if I have a chance," he said. "I feel very comfortable."
• Seattle has won 11 consecutive games against the AL Central. The Mariners are 21-7 in their past 28 games against teams from that division after starting the year 1-5.
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or email@example.com.
On Twitter @gbakermariners.
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