So all that trade stuff during the game with Travis Snider and postgame with Brandon League and Steve Delabar overshadowed the fact that Hisashi Iwakuma picked up his first big league win as a starter in what was his best outing of his brief MLB career.
Iwakuma pitched eight innings, allowing one run on four hits, while walking three and striking out a career high 13 hitters.
The 13 strikeouts were the most Iwakuma could ever recall striking out in one game.
The 13 strikeouts were tied for the most in a start this season. Felix Hernandez had 13 against the Red Sox on June 30.
The 13 strikeouts said a Mariners rookie record, eclipsing the previous mark of 12 held by Randy Johnson, Freddy Garcia, Mark Langston.
Not bad considering that Iwakuma spent parts of three days in Japan in between the starts. With his father ailing, Iwakuma made the 10 hour flight home on Thursday to be with him. He returned on Saturday and started on Monday.
There were no signs of jet lag.
“I really didn’t think about that,” he said through his translator. “I only thought of the game. I just did the same preparations and mostly tried to pitch.”
After giving up a lead-off homer to Rajai Davis to start the game, he didn’t allow another hit till the fourth inning. He worked his way out of a bases loaded one out mess in the second and only allowed two runners to make it second base after that.
And then there were the strikeouts.
Iwakuma, who came into the game averaging just over 6.5 strikeouts per nine innings, doubled that output. And he did so against a Blue Jays team that has hit 145 homers this season – second most in the American League, and have struck out a far less rate than over half the teams in the AL.
“I’m not interested in getting strikeouts,” he said. “My pitching is getting ground balls and outs. Fortunately, I got the 13 strikeouts and I’m really proud of them.”
The Blue Jays’ top four hitters of Davis, Colby Rasmus, Brett Lawrie and Edwin Encarnacion – struck out a combined nine times and managed just Davis’ home run in 16 at-bats against Iwakuma.