The Mariners are 22-22 as they head into Wednesday afternoon's series finale at Texas. And while a .500 record after 44 games might not seem like much in some places, it matches the Mariners' best record at this stage in 11 years.
Through 44 games:
Our game story from Tuesday (OK, my game story) posed the question of whether Hisashi Iwakuma is the American League's best pitcher after he moved to 3-0 with a 1.76 ERA by working eight innings in a 6-2 victory over the Rangers.
There's a lot of numbers out there to support arguments for different pitchers. (And you're welcome to post supportive or opposing arguments in the comments section on whatever stats you prefer.)
But here's the top seven ERA leaders since the beginning of last season for qualifying pitchers who have spent both years in the American League (with their won-lost records for our sabermetric-minded friends):
Hisashi Iwakuma, Mariners : 17-6 and 2.55 ERA.
Anibal Sanchez, Tigers: 15-10 and 2.61 ERA.
Max Scherzer, Tigers: 27-4 and 2.67 ERA.
Yu Darvish, Rangers: 16-11 and 2.73 ERA.
Chris Sale, White Sox: 14-14 and 2.98 ERA.
Felix Hernandez, Mariners: 17-11 and 3.01 ERA.
James Shields, Royals: 19-12 and 3.04 ERA.
It sure seems there's a case to be made for Iwakuma.
With shortstop Stephen Drew signing back at Boston, there's renewed speculation the Mariners could revisit a deal with Kendrys Morales (particularly in light of Corey Hart's injury). There's little to suggest that will happen. The word throughout the organization is that money's tight, which makes it questionable whether the Mariners would even offer what Drew received — a pro-rated portion (about $10 million) of their previous $14.1 million qualifying offer...While the club are saying Hart will miss four-to-six weeks with a grade-2 strain of his left hamstring, the expectation is it'll be a lot closer to six weeks (or more) before he returns...Club officials had hoped Logan Morrison would be able to depart at mid-week on a minor-league rehab assignment for his strained right hamstring. But the training staff says Morrison still isn't running well enough for game action.
Around the farms
***It was a rough night for Triple-A Tacoma in a 7-0 loss to Reno (Diamondbacks). Our Don Ruiz has the details.
***Double-A Jackson had Tuesday off and opens a five-game series Wednesday at Jacksonville (Marlins). The Generals did however designate Bo Jackson as their franchise's first inductee to the new Southern League Hall of Fame. It's a strange choice. Jackson played for the franchise in another city while part of another organization.
***Hi-A High Desert managed just four hits in a 4-2 loss at Lake Elsinore (Padres). From the Victorville Daily Press.
***Lo-A Clinton starter Lars Huijer allowed seven runs in just 1 2/3 innings in a 14-3 loss at Peoria (Cardinals). From the LumberKings' website.