Found April 13, 2013 on
Twelve games into this 2013 season, Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma has been the large bright spot in the team’s 4-8 start, and a man who is earning kudos and respect every time he steps onto the mound.
I hereby apologize for ragging Mr. Iwakuma (on the air) last year, with my stopwatch in hand, when he became very deliberate when a runner reached base. You know what? Kuma gets the job done. There’s your bottom line. He really proved that during the second half of last season and has continued to grow and gain confidence since.
Here in ’13, Iwakuma’s started three games and has a 2-0 record with a 2.18 ERA after Friday night’s 3-1 win over the Rangers — a nice 32nd birthday present to himself. Kuma pitched a strong 6.2 innings, giving up a run on three hits , striking out six and walking one in a win that ended a three game skid. Last week in Chicago, where the Mariners seem to always have trouble, he pitched eight innings and left with the score tied at 3-3. With more of an offensive pop that night, he might have been in position to win that game as well.
Given the slow start at the plate by Smoak, Seager, Ackley and Montero along with the injuries this week to Saunders and Morse, Iwakuma really stands out for the Mariners. Good for him. In 2012 he came to the USA after starring for 11-years in his native Japan. Iwakuma was making the cultural change, and all that entailed. He wasn’t fully healthy, got buried in the bullpen and had not built up trust in the eyes of manager Eric Wedge. But then a few outings coming out of the bullpen worked well for him. A few starts were thrown his way, and next thing you know, Kuma finishes the second half of the season with a 6-2, 1.83 ERA over his last nine starts. In 16 starts, he was 8-4, 2.65 . His ERA was a rookie best in Mariners history, beating out Felix Hernandez’ 2.67 in 2005. Overall his numbers read: 9-5, 3.16 with two saves, 101 strike outs and 43 walks. Hello new 2-year contract with an option for 2015. And hurray, he’s the number-two man in the Mariners rotation behind King Felix.
Big tip of the cap to you Hisashi. Much continued success.
BEST OF MAXIM
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