Seattle Mariners' Hisashi Iwakuma Outduels Justin Verlander, Continues Early-Season Dominance

By Max Gross
Joe Nicholson- USA TODAY Sports

Going into Thursday’s game between the Seattle Mariners and Detroit Tigers, you would think that the Tigers would have had the advantage with Justin Verlander on the hill, but that was not the case.

Verlander was good, allowing only two runs in seven innings with 12 strikeouts, but Mariners’ pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma was better.

Iwakuma dominated the Tigers’ hitters, throwing six scoreless innings. However, he was forced to leave after those six innings having only thrown 68 pitches with an apparent blister on one the fingers on his throwing hand.

He ran into a similar problem in a few of his spring training starts, citing “dryness on his fingertips” as the problem. This may seem like a minor issue, but it greatly affects the grip on Iwakuma’s split-finger fastball, his best pitch. Iwakuma is not expected to miss any time, which is good for the Mariners because he has dominated in each of his first four starts.

So far in the 2013 season, the 32-year-old has been incredibly good, posting a 1.69 ERA and a WHIP of only 0.52 in 26 innings pitched. He has not been overwhelming though, only striking out 18 hitters, but he has limited base runners, only allowing two walks so far.

Iwakuma has also been very efficient with his pitch count, and has yet to throw more than 90 pitches in any of his four outings, while averaging close to seven innings per start. He will be tested in his next start against the Houston Astros, a team that hit the Mariners very hard the first time that they played.

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