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Mariners’ Hisashi Iwakuma settles in for strong start

The second batter of the game doubled off Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma, then the fourth one hit a long home run.

But after that, the Japanese veteran retired 16 batters in a row to give his team a chance to win. Iwakuma allowed only four hits to the high-powered White Sox, striking out three and not walking anybody in a huge test of whether he’d be able to keep his pitches down in a ballpark that yields long balls by the bucketload.

“It’s scary to pitch here because anything that goes up (in the air), there’s a chance it can go out,” Iwakuma said through interpreter Antony Suzuki. “The only thing we can do is keep the ball down and make them hit it on the ground. So, that’s all I had in mind.”

But even when Iwakuma made the pitches he wanted, one additional ball still wound up leaving the park in the seventh inning. Alex Rios ended Iwakuma’s streak of retired batters by lining a ball over the wall in left center to tie the score at 3-3.

“We wanted to go in and we did go in,” Iwakuma said. “But he still got to it, so you just have to tip your cap.”

Of the four hits Iwakuma allowed, three were for extra bases. He left with a no-decision after eight innings.

via Mariners’ Hisashi Iwakuma settles in for strong start | Mariners | The Seattle Times.

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