Seattle Mariners pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma made history Wednesday, becoming the fifth pitcher to ever throw a no-hitter for the Mariners and the fourth this season to do so in a 3-0 win over the Baltimore Orioles at Safeco Field in Seattle.
Iwakuma was coming off two strong consecutive starts, and it was apparent after the first few innings that he had the stuff to continue his recent success. Through the first three innings he had 30 pitches and one strikeout, and then in the fourth he got into a little trouble after walking third baseman Manny Machado and first baseman Chris Davis.
Those walks would be the only base runners he would allow until walking second baseman Jonathan Schoop in the eighth to lead off the inning. But after a strikeout, catcher Caleb Joseph grounded into a double play to end the inning.
A feature in many no-hitters in the past few years has been a standout play that usually saves the pitcher from giving up a hit. In the last no-hitter by Cole Hamels against the Chicago Cubs on July 25 when he was still a Philadelphia Philly, center fielder Odubel Herrera made two hit-saving catches, including the last out of the game.
The play that could best fit that category in this game would be the catch by third baseman Kyle Seager in the top of the ninth. On a foul ball by left fielder David Lough, Seager made an over-the-head catch with his back to the ball up near the wall behind third base. He caught the ball near his belt for the first out of the inning. Machado then grounded out to third, and right fielder Gerardo Perra lined out to center field on the first pitch for the last out.
“I can’t find the words to express my feelings. I’m truly happy,” Iwakuma said through an interpreter, according to The Komo News.
Iwakuma is the second Japanese-born pitcher to throw a no-hitter. The first was Hideo Nomo, who first broke into the league in 1995, ushering in a new era of players coming over from Japan and then surrounding countries. He threw two no-hitters: his first was Sept. 17, 1996, as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers against the Colorado Rockies in Colorado, and his second was on April 4, 2001, as a member of the Red Sox against the Orioles in Baltimore.
“I’m just glad it’s over. I’ve had to pee since the fifth inning,” Mariners manager McClendon said, according to The Komo News. “It’s pretty special. … I thought in the fifth inning his stuff was really sharp and his split was coming out crisp.”
In his last three starts, Iwakuma has now thrown 24.2 innings with 21 strikeouts and a 1.49 ERA and only given up nine hits and four walks. On the season he is now 4-2 with a 3.86 ERA, which he has lowered from 5.10 over these last three starts.
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