Hisashi Iwakuma pitches for the Everett AquaSox during a game against the Hillsboro Hops on Aug. 26. (Allstar.Photos, Michael & Bill Jacobs)

Hisashi Iwakuma pitches for the Everett AquaSox during a game against the Hillsboro Hops on Aug. 26. (Allstar.Photos, Michael & Bill Jacobs)

Hisashi Iwakuma to start playoff opener for the AquaSox

The Seattle Mariner pitcher is on a rehabilitation assignment

EVERETT — In their first game of the 2018 Northwest League playoffs, the Spokane Indians are going to face a major-league arm.

At least for the first few innings.

The Everett AquaSox announced Tuesday that Seattle Mariners pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma will start Wednesday night’s opener of the best-of-three semifinal series. The game is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at Everett Memorial Stadium.

Iwakuma, who is on a rehab assignment, will be making his third start for the AquaSox. He pitched one inning against Hillsboro on Aug 26, and two innings against Vancouver on Friday.

Jason Grohoske, Everett’s director of marketing and digital media, said the AquaSox are not sure how many innings Iwakuma is scheduled to pitch Wednesday, “but we are expecting it to be more than just a show-and-go.”

In his first two appearances with Everett this season, Iwakuma pitched a total of three innings, allowing two hits and one run. He struck out two.

Iwakuma, who has not pitched in the big leagues this season after undergoing shoulder surgery last September, is hoping to rejoin the Mariners before the regular season ends Sept. 30, Grohoske said.

The AquaSox are in the playoffs for the third time in the past four seasons. Following Wednesday night’s opener, the series shifts to Spokane for Game 2 Thursday. If necessary, Game 3 will be played Friday in Spokane.

The winner of the series advances to face either Hillsboro or Eugene for the NWL championship. The Hillsboro-Eugene series also begins Wednesday.

Everett qualified for the playoffs by winning the NWL North Division’s first-half championship with a record of 20-18. Spokane won the second half with a 22-16 mark.

The AquaSox are led offensively by third baseman Bobby Honeyman. A 29th-round pick by the Seattle Mariners in this year’s major-league draft, Honeyman finished second in the NWL in batting with a .346 batting average and led Everett with a .383 on-base percentage. He was the only Everett player named last week to the NWL’s 14-member End-of-Season All-Star Team.

Other offensive standouts for Everett include shortstop Ryne Ogren, who led the Frogs with 31 RBI, and catcher Cal Raleigh, who topped the AquaSox in home runs (eight) and OPS (.902).

Everett and Spokane faced each other 12 times in the regular season, with the Indians holding a 7-5 advantage in the season series.

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