HOUSTON — Hisashi Iwakuma pitched far better than indicated by his final line of four runs in 6 2/3 innings. He had allowed just two runs and four hits over the first six innings and 56 of his 81 pitches for strikes.
“Kuma looked like the Kuma of old,” catcher Mike Zunino said. “Right off the bat. I know (he thinks) he’s still ironing out some stuff, but I thought his breaking ball and his split were great today.”
Iwakuma gave up a homer in the seventh to Chris Carter before departing after Marwin Gonzalez’s two-out single. That single turned into a run when reliever Dominic Leone gave up a two-run homer to Jonathan Villar.
“I feel relieved right now,” Iwakuma admitted through translator Antony Suzuki. “I was very excited before the game, but I was able to focus during the whole course of the game. I was able to pitch my game.”
Iwakuma extended his scoreless streak, dating back to last season, to 25 innings before yielding two runs in the third. That is the fifth-longest streak in club history.
The last Mariner to work at least 25 scoreless innings was reliever Shigetoshi Hasegawa, who went 28 2/3 innings from June 3 to Aug. 17, 2003.
That crazy eight
The Mariners’ eight-run seventh was their biggest one-inning output since they scored eight in successive innings — the second and third — in a 21-8 victory over the Rangers on May 30, 2012 at Texas.
Their best previous 2014 inning was six runs on three occasions. The most recent was April 17 in the third inning of an 8-6 loss at Texas.
Mac on bunts
Few strategies create greater public debate than whether bunting, in general, is an effective offensive strategy. Saunders put down a leadoff bunt Friday in the sixth that led to a two-run inning.
McClendon on bunting: “Bunting is nice. I need guys to drive in runs. Hit a three-run homer. When you outscore the other team, you win. Not bunts. That’s all part of it, but I need runs.”
Saunders opened the game Saturday by bunting; he was thrown out by the pitcher.
Lloyd McClendon’s ejection was the 24th of his career, his 19th as a manager and his first with the Mariners…Hisashi Iwakuma is the eighth starting pitcher used this season (in 26 games) by the Mariners. Only the Rangers and White Sox, with nine, have used more…Robinson Cano has reached base safely at least once in each of his 16 career games against the Astros…Justin Smoak scored twice and had two RBIs in the seventh inning. The last Mariner to have two runs and two RBIs in an inning was Jesus Montero in the second inning on May 30, 2012 at Texas…
It was 22 years ago Saturday — May 3, 1992 — that Edgar Martinez tied a club record by hitting two triples in a game. (Yes, read that again: Edgar.)
It still wasn’t enough.
The Mariners lost 8-6 to Baltimore.
A Mariner has hit two triples in a game on 12 occasions, but it’s been more than a decade since it happened. The last time was Carlos Guillen on May 9, 2003 against the White Sox at Safeco Field. The M’s won that game 6-3.
The Mariners conclude their three-game stay at Minute Maid Park with an 11:10 a.m. Pacific time game Sunday against the Astros.
Right-hander Brandon Maurer (0-0 with a 6.75 ERA) will start against Houston right-hander Collin McHugh (2-0 and 0.59). The Mariners then head to Oakland for four games.