Mariners Insider Blog

Mariners 3, Red Sox 1: Three homers back gem by Iwakuma

Hisashi Iwakuma pitched 7 1/3 scoreless innings Wednesday ina 3-1 victory over Boston.
Hisashi Iwakuma pitched 7 1/3 scoreless innings Wednesday ina 3-1 victory over Boston. AP

SEATTLE — It started as a night where the Mariners honored Boston designated hitter David Ortiz, whom they signed as a 16-year-old in 1996.

In the end, though, the night belonged to Hisashi Iwakuma, who conquered a personal nemesis in a 3-1 victory over the Red Sox at Safeco Field.

"Well, they’ve hit me pretty well in the past," Iwakuma said, "but last time I faced them in Boston, I had a good idea of what I wanted to do then. And I looked at the video of what I’ve been doing recently.

"I had a good meeting with (catcher Mike) Zunino before the game and it paid off."

Impressively so.

Iwakuma entered the game with an 8.59 ERA in five previous starts against the Red Sox. On Wednesday, he worked 7 1/3 scoreless innings, struck out seven and walked none.

"There’s a lot of lefties in (the Boston lineup)," Zunino said, "and he wanted to use the inside of the plate. He was able to use that slider down and in, and sort of a little, shorter slider up in their hands.

"He was able to keep them at bay with that, and then use that splitter when they needed to."

The Mariners backed Iwakuma (12-7) with three solo home runs against Boston right-hander Rick Porcello: Nelson Cruz to left field in the second inning; Zunino to center in the sixth; and Adam Lind to right in the seventh.

Porcello (14-3) allowed only one other hit in an eight-inning complete game, a single by Zunino in the eighth inning.

"He’s got a lot of pitches," Cruz said. "I guess he made three mistakes."

Iwakuma exited after Andrew Benintendi’s one-out single in the eighth inning. He was at 97 pitches and about to head through the Boston lineup for a fourth time.

"His track record," manager Scott Servais said, "is when he hits that 93-to-98 (pitch count)…that’s his spot in there, pitch-wise. We had a rested bullpen."

It got hairy, however, before it ended.

Drew Storen gave up a single to Mookie Betts, which brought the tying run to the plate. Brock Holt popped out, but Xander Bogaerts sent a drive to deep left that, for an instant, seemed poised to throw away Iwakuma’s work.

But the ball died at the track for the third out.

"When the ball went off Bogaerts’ bat," Servais said, "we’ve certainly seen that one go out of the park here a couple of times this year. But that time, it didn’t."

Rookie closer Edwin Diaz then wobbled through the ninth inning before closing out Iwakuma’s victory and gaining his second save.

Diaz gave up a one-out single to Jackie Bradley Jr. before hitting Aaron Hill with a pitch. A wild pitch moved the runners to second and third. Travis Shaw’s grounder to second scored Bradley and broke the shutout.

But Diaz closed it out by retiring Sandy Leon on a grounder to second.

"I was pulling my shoulder a little bit today," Diaz said, "but I made the adjustment and got the outs."

The victory lifted the Mariners to 54-52 and pulled them to within seven games of first-place Texas in the American League West Division. They are 4 1/2 games behind Detroit for the final wild-card berth.

Cruz’s leadoff homer in the second inning opened the scoring. He jumped a 90-mph fastball from Porcello for a 441-foot drive into the second deck in left field for his 27th homer of the season.

The Mariners didn’t get their second hit until the sixth inning, when Zunino led off with a 427-foot homer to center for a 2-0 lead. He has five homers in 12 games.

Lind extended the margin to 3-0 with a one-out homer to right in the seventh inning. It was his 16th of the year. Iwakuma and the bullpen took it from there.

"We’ve had success against (Iwakuma) in the past," Boston manager John Farrell said, "and it was his turn tonight. He was in command the entire time he was on the mound."

PLAY OF THE GAME: The Red Sox had the tying run at the plate with two outs — note that, two outs — in the eighth inning when Xander Bogaerts turned on a pitch from reliever Drew Storen it deep to left field.

For an instant, it appeared the game was tied. But a gusting wind (perhaps) slowed the flight, and Nori Aoki caught the ball on the track.

Aoki then hustled the ball back into the infield because…yes, he forgot the number of outs.

PLUS: Hisashi Iwakuma is 11-3 since May 20. Those 11 victories are the most in the majors since that date…Mike Zunino had two of the Mariners’ four hits. Regarding Zunino’s 427-foot homer to center, teammate Nelson Cruz said: "That was impressive. It went a long way. I haven’t seen one hit that far to center field here in a long time."…Adam Lind has 15 homers in his last 56 games.

MINUS: Not too much, really, other than left fielder Nori Aoki forgetting how many outs there were in the eighth inning.

STAT PACK: Nelson Cruz is batting .316 his season in 57 games as a designated hitter with 18 homers and 50 RBIs. He is batting .240 in 45 games as a right fielder with nine homers and 19 RBIs.

QUOTABLE: Manager Scott Servais on Edwin Diaz’s shaky ninth inning: "Edwin got a little bit out of sync tonight. You could see that he was rushing a little bit. He’s 22 years old. I think everybody needs to keep that in mind.

"There are going to be nights when it’s going to be awesome. And there are going to be nights when he’s not going to be quite as sharp.

"But because he’s got the stuff, you don’t have to be quite as sharp. He still has a chance to get through it."

SHORT HOPS: The Mariners held a pre-game ceremony to honor Boston DH David Ortiz, who is retiring after the season. Among other things, he received a framed copy of his first professional contract, a watch and 34 pounds of Northwest King Salmon…Thursday’s starter, lefty Ariel Miranda, was in the clubhouse after the game. There was no official word from the Mariners on the roster move to recall Miranda from Triple-A Tacoma, but right-hander Donn Roach was getting handshakes and pats on the back from teammates…Boston’s Rick Porcello suffered his first loss in 14 starts.

Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners