PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Phillies found out for the first time what most of baseball already knows — Hisashi Iwakuma is pretty darn good.
The Phillies came into the game Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park with just one player on the roster — Ben Revere — having faced Iwakuma in a major-league game.
They left the game frustrated and flabbergasted and without a run against Iwakuma.
The Mariners right-hander carved up the Phillies, tossing eight shutout innings, allowing just four hits in leading Seattle to a 5-2 win.
“He was outstanding,” Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said. “He commanded all of his pitches. He was in and out and up and down. He did a tremendous job for us.”
Iwakuma was dominant and efficient, throwing 96 pitches with a whopping 76 strikes. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out 11. He found a rhythm, got ahead of hitters, racked up outs and continued work at a steady pace for the entire outing to improve to 12-6 for the season and lower his ERA to 2.57. Only one runner even reached second base against him.
“He keeps the ball down in the zone so well and he’s done a great job lately of elevating to change the eye level,” said catcher Mike Zunino. “That’s really been setting up the split-finger. Seeing him for the first time has got to be frustrating.”
The numbers reflect that frustration in interleague play. Iwakuma has made three interleague starts in National League parks in his career, and hasn’t given up a run in 22 innings pitched.
He’s currently in the midst of a streak of 172/3 shutout innings over his past three starts.
“I was just trying to be aggressive and go after hitters,” Iwakuma said through interpreter Antony Suzuki. “I felt like everything was working today.”
Iwakuma was so locked in he didn’t even realize he’d struck out 11 batters.
“I didn’t know that,” he said. “But in situations, we all have to execute and I was able to make pitches when I needed to.”