SEATTLE – Seattle starter Hisashi Iwakuma added to his dominant streak against the A.L. Central.
The All-Star right-hander struck out seven and walked none in eight innings to run his scoreless streak against division teams to 48 2/3 innings in the Mariners’ 1-0 win over the Kansas City Royals on Thursday night.
It is the second-longest streak by any pitcher against one division dating to 1974. Orel Hershiser tossed 55 straight scoreless innings against N.L. West opponents in 1988.
“He’s got a good two-seamer and his split was pretty much unhittable today,” Kansas City’s Billy Butler said. “He was mixing a slider in there and had all three pitches working at any time. He was throwing them all for strikes.”
Iwakuma (2-0) scattered four singles and allowed only one baserunner to reach second in his second start of the season. Iwakuma, who began the year on the disabled list with a strained tendon on the middle finger of his pitching hand, bolsters a strong pitching staff that has helped the team win 11 times in the last 14 games since losing eight straight from April 15-22.
“He’s getting better each and every time out,” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. “I think if you asked him, there’s a lot more in there. There’s a lot of room for improvement, but that just goes to show how good he really is.”
The Mariners pushed across the lone run in the third. Mike Zunino led off with a double for Seattle’s first hit and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. After a strikeout, Duffy intentionally walked Robinson Cano. Corey Hart followed with a run-scoring single up the middle that proved to be the difference.
Seattle hitters have driven in runs three out of the six times opposing teams have intentionally walked Cano this season.
“Offense didn’t win the game, Kuma obviously was dominant,” Hart said. “Any time a pitcher throws like that, you try to scrap any run you can get across, and one was enough. A guy throws like that, you hate to lose.”
Kansas City managed just four singles and advanced a runner to second base only once during the first eight innings. The Royals had their best opportunity to score in the ninth when Fernando Rodney walked two, but the closer struck out Butler and induced a game-ending groundout for his 10th save in 11 chances.
“Our guys are grinders,” McClendon said. “I think they’ve proven that they know how to get back up off the mat, so to speak. This has been a tough month and a half for us in a lot of different ways, but I think when it’s all said and done, maybe we’re not as bad as people thought we were going to be.”
Seattle LHP James Paxton, on the disabled list with a strained left lat muscle, played catch and is scheduled to throw a bullpen Friday. … Mariners RHP Taijuan Walker is scheduled to toss a bullpen Sunday after playing catch on Thursday. Walker is on the 15-day DL with right shoulder inflammation.