The Seattle Mariners have looked nothing like their soft-swinging, three-run scoring selves in the past week. On Tuesday night, they banged out 13 hits and scored eight runs.
The Mariners pitching staff, however, couldn’t do anything with the wealth of run support, giving up 16 hits and five homers in an 11-8 loss to the Boston Red Sox at Safeco Field.
Perhaps the most alarming aspect of the Mariners’ loss was the continued struggles of starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma and the growing number of home runs that opponents are bashing off of him.
Despite being named to the American League All-Star team on Saturday, Iwakuma pitched nothing like it against the hard hitting Red Sox.
He made it just three innings -- the shortest start of his major league career, giving up six runs on eight hits, including three home runs. He struck out just three.
It’s a disturbing trend developing.
Over his past five starts, Iwakuma has posted a 0-3 record. In 29 innings pitched, he’s given up 22 runs on 33 hits and allowed a whopping 10 homers. For the season, he’s given up 20 homers, which is the third most by a pitcher in the American League.
So what’s the problem?
“It was just some bad misses,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “The home run has really hurt him in the last four or five starts. He was just missing up in the middle of the plate.”
Iwakuma worked a 1-2-3 inning and everything seemed normal. The Mariners even gave him an immediate lead. Kendrys Morales hit his first of two homers on the night, a two-run homer into the bullpen in left-center field off Red Sox starter Allen Webster.
It didn’t matter.
Iwakuma gave up a lead-off homer to David Ortiz to start the second and surrendered two more hits before finally getting out of the inning with a strikeout.
Perhaps sensing that Iwakuma didn’t have his best stuff, the Mariners picked him up by pushing three more runs across in the second inning. Rookie shortstop Brad Miller continued his dynamic play, lacing a base-loaded double to right.
Still, even with a 5-1 lead Iwakuma couldn’t make it stand up.
He fell apart in the third inning, giving up two-run homers — to Dustin Pedroia and Mike Napoli — and a sacrifice fly. That left the Mariners behind 6-5.
“Tonight I thought he was a little flat,” Wedge said. “He didn’t seem to have quite the same end on his pitches that we’ve seen.”
But since the Mariners have turned into an offensive juggernaut in the past week, Seattle retook the lead. Morales blasted a solo homer to center -- his 13th of the season -- off Webster to tie the score. Later in the inning, Michael Saunders laced a triple to right-center to score Kyle Seager as the Mariners retook the lead 7-6.
Wedge went to his bullpen in hopes of stopping Boston’s offense. It couldn’t.
The Red Sox tied the score in the fourth off Blake Beavan on Pedroia’s RBI single. They took the lead in the fifth inning on Jackie Bradley Jr.’s solo home run to right-center off Beavan.
Meanwhile, the Mariners bats’ were finally stymied. They went scoreless in the fourth inning -- the first time in eight straight innings played they hadn’t scored a run. The drought continued until the bottom of the eighth inning when they scratched across a run on Miller’s fielder’s choice.
By then it was too late because in the top half of the eighth the Red Sox scored three runs on a Shane Victorino solo homer to off Charlie Furbush and two RBI singles off Carter Capps.
“We just couldn’t get anybody out and our guys struggled into the bullpen,” Wedge said. ‘Their starter struggled, too, but when they went to their middle innings guys, they did a nice job and got them deeper in the ball game.”
Ortiz went 4-for-5 on the night and notched his 1,688 hit as a designated hitter, tying Harold Baines for the all-time record.
“He’s a tough one to pitch to,’ Wedge said.
Morales went 3-for-5 with two homers. Miller went 3-for-5 with four RBI and Kyle Seager and Michael Saunders added two hits each.
“There’s a lot of encouraging things for us offensively now,” Wedge said. “That’s the positive you take out of it.”
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