Hisashi Iwakuma turned in another strong start and Edwin Diaz converted his fifth save in as many chances as the Mariners won for the sixth time in seven games. The 3-0 triumph (box) over Detroit Monday night at Safeco Field moved Seattle (58-53) to 2½ games behind the Tigers for the second American League wild-card playoff spot.
While Diaz continued to rack up saves with dominating ninth innings, it was the guy who preceded him who made the most noise. New reliever Arquimedes Caminero, acquired from Pittsburgh over the weekend, did his best Diaz impersonation — a 99 mph fastball — to hammer through the three batters he faced in the eighth. With those two power arms closing out games, the Mariners might be hard to beat with a lead.
Iwakuma extended his scoreless streak to 14.1 innings while allowing five hits, walking one and striking out eight, matching his season high. His 12 wins since May 30 lead the AL. He has won eight consecutive home starts, surpassing Felix Hernandez (7, from Aug. 29, 2009 to April 21, 2010) for most wins in consecutive home starts in club history.
Caminero and Diaz got the final six outs without drama.
Seattle didn’t need a lot. 3B Kyle Seager and C Mike Zunino had RBI singles in the second inning, then LF Guillermo Heredia added one in the eighth.
For the second game in a row, the Mariners won without hitting a homer.
“Hopefully he responds the right way, and he comes back with a chip on his shoulder and we get the good Taijuan back.” — Manager Scott Servais, on the decision to send starter Taijuan Walker to Tacoma
“I guess I was on vacation for a while. I was playing today.” – DH Nelson Cruz, on his 2-for-3 performance
“The hitters had a little trouble I think deciphering between the slider, split and fastball. I think they were all coming in looking the same.” — Tigers manager Brad Ausmus on Iwakuma
The Mariners’ pre-game move that sent RHP Taijuan Walker to Triple-A created plenty of buzz. Servais made it clear that the move was performance-based: Walker had to pitch better if he wants to stay in the Mariners’ rotation. Walker, 23, was once the top prospect in the organization and began this year as the No. 2 starter. But he’s struggled with a foot problem and is 4-7 with a 4.10 ERA over 17 starts . . . The move opens the door for newcomer LHP Ariel Miranda to stay in the rotation. His next start is likely to be Friday against Oakland. Miranda was acquired in the Wade Miley trade with Baltimore . . . Caminero was the 21st player to make a relief appearance for the Mariners this season, and 28th pitcher overall, tying the club record set 1995 and 2015 . . . There was nothing new on James Paxton’s elbow injury. Paxton is likely to skip his next start – Seattle has an off day Thursday – then will be re-evaluated . . . The Mariners are 21-11 at Safeco Field since May 30.
LHP Wade LeBlanc (1-0, 4.31 ERA) makes his sixth start, and seventh appearance, in the series’s second game at 7:10 p.m. Tuesday. LeBlanc returned to the rotation when Miley was traded, and he’ll probably get a long-term look now that Walker has been sent down. Detroit will counter with LHP Daniel Norris (1-0, 4.85 ERA). Norris is making his first start since being recalled from Triple-A, replacing injured RHP Jordan Zimmermann in the rotation. Norris made three starts this season, including a no-decision in a 5-4 win over the Mariners in June.
Dipoto must be chuckling a lot these days what with where the Mariners are and where the Angels are.
I thought Walker was pitching like a single “A” pitcher, that is nibbling lead-off hitters and then throwing down the middle to power hitters, so the move to the minors was highly warranted. He also seems to space out mentally from time to time, get a vacant or scared look in his eyes, which is suicide in the big leagues. I expect him to come back strong though, hopefully with the “chip on his shoulder” that Servais wants him to have.