SEATTLE — If first impressions count for anything, right-handed reliever Mayckol Guaipe will be back in the big leagues before long.
For now, though, Guaipe is heading back to Triple-A Tacoma on an optional assignment by the Seattle Mariners in order to clear space for left-hander Mike Montgomery on the 25-man roster.
Montgomery made his major-league debut Tuesday night when he started against the New York Yankees at Safeco Field. He filled the rotation vacancy created last week when James Paxton suffered a finger injury.
The Mariners also activated rookie left-handed reliever Tyler Olson from the disabled list and optioned him to Tacoma. He suffered a bruised knee in a May 2 outing at Houston.
Olson, 25, was 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in 11 games prior to his injury.
The Mariners recalled Guaipe, 24, from Tacoma prior to Monday’s game to provide a fresh arm for a bullpen that worked 10 2/3 innings over the two previous games.
Guaipe responded by retiring all seven batters over 2 1/3 innings in his major-league debut after replacing an ineffective Felix Hernandez in a 7-2 loss to the Yankees in the series opener.
“He did a nice job for us,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “He’s got a nice future. You can’t play with 26.”
Guaipe is the first pitcher in franchise history to record a perfect outing of at least two innings in his big-league debut. He is also just the 17th pitcher over the last century to pitch at least 2 1/3 innings without allowing a runner.
The corresponding move to add Montgomery figured to be a choice between two relievers: Guaipe and right-hander Dominic Leone, who had struggled before working two scoreless innings in Monday’s loss.
PLAN FOR IWAKUMA
Injured right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma is just about ready to step back on a mound as the next step in his recovery from a strained back muscle — specifically, a strained right latissimus dorsi muscle.
Plans call for Iwakuma to test his recovery Thursday in a bullpen workout.
Tentative plans call for two more bullpen sessions, Sunday and next week, and at least one simulated game before he will be reevaluated for a possible departure to the minor leagues for a rehab assignment.
Iwakuma is expected to make two or three rehab starts before rejoining the big-league rotation. He suffered the injury in his day-after throwing program following an April 20 start against Houston.
The Mariners, whatever their other problems, seem to have solved what appeared to be a surprisingly leaky defense over the season’s opening weeks.
They entered Tuesday’s game with only nine errors over their last 27 games, which covers the span since committing a season-high three errors on May 2 in an 11-4 loss at Houston.
The Mariners have a .991 fielding percentage in their 27-game lockdown, which is the best in the American League. Overall, their .986 fielding percentage ranks fourth in the league.
Oddly, perhaps, the Mariners had a .986 fielding percentage a year ago — and led the league.
This might surprise you: The online gaming folks at www.Bovada.lv believe the Mariners are a better bet now to win the World Series than roughly a month ago.
Bovada lists the Mariners at 25/1 in its revised odds. They were 33/1 on May 6 after opening the season at 12/1.
The Mariners are also pegged at 11/1 to win the American League pennant and 11/4 to win the AL West — down from 14/1 and 6/1 on May 6.
Overall, Washington has the best Series-winning odds at 6/1, followed by the Los Angeles Dodgers at 13/2. Kansas City and St. Louis are each 15/2.
The Nationals and Royals are each 13/4 favorites to win pennants.
Individually, Bovada still lists Mariners ace Felix Hernandez as the AL Cy Young favorite, although his odds are up to 3/2 after being a prohibitive 11/10 on May 6.
Mariners right fielder Nelson Cruz is tied with Detroit first baseman Miguel Cabrera for second choice as the AL’s Most Valuable Player at 4-1. Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout is a 2/1 favorite.
Right-hander Edwin Diaz, rated prior to the season as the organization’s top pitching prospect, continues to struggle since his May 13 promotion to Double-A Jackson.
Diaz, 21, lasted just four innings Monday before exiting after throwing 85 pitches in a 5-2 victory at Mississippi (Braves). He is 0-3 with an 8.66 ERA in four starts since joining the Generals from Hi-A Bakersfield.
That promotion occurred after Diaz opened the season by going 2-0 with a 1.70 ERA in seven starts at Bakersfield with 42 strikeouts in 37 innings. He permitted just 0.811 walks and hits per inning.
The Mariners selected Diaz in the third round of the 2012 draft, and he was rated No. 6 prospect prior to the season in the TNT Top 10 list of the organization’s prospects.
It was 14 years ago Wednesday — June 3, 2001 — that the Mariners set a franchise record by winning their 11th consecutive game in an 8-4 victory over Tampa Bay at Safeco Field.
The previous record of 10 straight victories occurred from Sept. 12-21, 1996.
The 2001 Mariners stretched their winning streak to 15 games, which remains a club record.
The Mariners have played 35 games decided by two or fewer runs — the most in the majors…The Mariners faced a left-handed starter Tuesday (CC Sabathia) for the first time since facing Toronto’s Mark Buehrle on May 23. They are not scheduled to face another lefty for at least five games…Robinson Cano needs to score two more runs to reach 900 for his career…Mike Montgomery is the 37th pitcher in franchise history to make his big-league debut in a starting role. The last to do so was Roenis Elias on April 3, 2014 at Oakland…Montgomery is the fourth Mariners’ starting pitcher to make his debut against the Yankees. The others were Matt Young (April 6, 1983), Terry Taylor (Aug. 19, 1988) and Pat Rice (May 18, 1991).
The Mariners and Yankees conclude their three-game series at 12:40 p.m. Wednesday at Safeco Field. Right-hander Taijuan Walker (2-5, 6.18) will face New York right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (2-1, 3.22).
The game can be seen on Roots Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN.
The 11-game homestand then concludes with four weekend games against Tampa Bay.