Struggling Seattle Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma can only
hope his past form against the Los Angeles Angels helps him break
out of a five-start winless run.
Joe Blanton may be tied for the major league lead in losses, but
he’s pitched better over his last five outings than Iwakuma has in
the same span.
Both starters allowed six runs in shaky efforts their last time
out and will meet Sunday when the Mariners try for their first
three-game home sweep of the Angels in eight seasons.
Iwakuma (7-4, 2.97 ERA) has been close to or at the top of the
AL in ERA through most of the season while Blanton (2-11, 5.40)
owns the majors’ third-worst ERA. Yet this may not be the pitching
mismatch it appears to be based on that alone.
Iwakuma is 0-3 with a 6.83 ERA over his last five outings. The
six runs allowed by the All-Star on Tuesday came in the shortest
start of his career, a three-inning stint in which he escaped
without a decision in an 11-8 loss to Boston.
“I think my pitches are catching too much of the plate the last
couple of starts,” Iwakuma said through a translator. “I need to
work on that.”
Blanton lasted five-plus innings in Tuesday’s 7-2 defeat to the
Chicago Cubs. His ERA in his last five starts is 4.26.
“It was just one of those games,” said Blanton, who had a 3.04
ERA over his previous four starts. “I tried to battle through, but
I made too many mistakes over the plate.”
The right-hander allowed a season-worst four homers and has
given up a major league high-tying 22.
He’ll be up against a Seattle team that has homered five times
in this series to extend its club record for consecutive games with
at least one to 21. That’s the longest by an AL team since Texas
set the major league record with 27 straight in 2002.
“Everybody has been busting our chops on offense and rightfully
so but I think you’ve got to give these kids kudos for that,”
manager Eric Wedge said.
Blanton is 0-1 with a 3.55 ERA in two 2013 starts against the
Seattle (42-52) last swept three at home from Los Angeles
(44-48) from Sept. 12-14, 2005. The Mariners have to like their
chances if Iwakuma can duplicate his past results against the
Iwakuma has beaten Los Angeles more than any team, going 4-0
with a 1.11 ERA in five starts. He has struck out 22 and never
allowed an earned run in 19 1-3 innings at home versus the
Albert Pujols is 2 for 16 against the right-hander, Mike Trout
is 2 for 15, Erick Aybar 2 for 10 and Josh Hamilton 2 for 9. Pujols
and Trout have each struck out five times versus Iwakuma.
Pujols is 3 for 23 at Safeco Field this year and Hamilton is 4
for 24. Neither has gone deep.
The Mariners, meanwhile, have outhomered the Angels 10-3 in
winning five of six at home. Raul Ibanez is 5 for 8 with two homers
in this series.
Justin Smoak had the game’s only homer Saturday and drove in
four runs in a 6-0 victory.