SEATTLE – Hisashi Iwakuma kept his pitches down and the ball in the ballpark. Most of the time.
Iwakuma (8-4) allowed a solo home run to Mark Trumbo, but kept the Angels to three runs over seven innings as Seattle completed its first sweep of the season by beating the Los Angeles Angels 4-3 Sunday.
It was an improvement on a lousy month by the Mariners All-Star, who had allowed at least four runs in each of his previous five starts and 10 home runs over his last four outings.
“He was good. Just a couple bad misses but he was downhill better. He executed pitches better,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said.
Following his previous outing – his shortest of the season allowing six runs in three innings against Boston – Iwakuma noted some minor mechanical adjustments he needed to fix to get back on track. Against the Angels, Iwakuma had a better feel for his fastball and was able to mix in his breaking pitches more effectively.
He struck out seven for his first win since June 10.
“Today, overall, I thought I had a better fastball. I had more life with my fastball,” Iwakuma said through a translator. “I was able to make an adjustment. I gave up one home run but then overall I thought I had better command than I did the last couple of starts.”
The day didn’t go nearly as well for Angels starter Joe Blanton.
Blanton (2-12) left the game after allowing the first three runners to reach base in the fifth inning. His four innings pitched was the shortest outing of an already tumultuous season and Blanton appeared to snap in the dugout after coming off the mound in the fourth. Blanton attacked a water cooler and threw it to the ground and appeared to engage in a verbal altercation with catcher Chris Iannetta.
Iannetta called it “a miscommunication” but wouldn’t elaborate on the incident. Blanton was also mum on specifics but chalked it up to frustration.
“Any time things aren’t going good it kind of brings things to a little volcano, a little head, whatever you want to call it,” Blanton said.
“Things aren’t going well. You try and do more out there competing with everything. Things happen. Guys get mad at giving up runs, striking out. It’s part of it sometimes.”
Michael Saunders hit a two-run homer and Raul Ibanez had an RBI double as the Mariners topped Los Angeles for the third straight day.