No-hitter earns Iwakuma AL POW honors
ARLINGTON -- Hisashi Iwakuma earned his first American League Player of the Week Award on Monday, five days after becoming the second Japanese-born pitcher to throw a no-hitter in the Major Leagues.
Iwakuma's gem was the fifth no-hitter in Mariners history, and he became the first Seattle pitcher to earn AL Player of the Week honors since Felix Hernandez on June 9, 2014. He's the third Mariners player to earn the weekly honor this season, joining shortstop Brad Miller (May 18) and right fielder Nelson Cruz (April 20).
Iwakuma blanked the Orioles for his first career complete game on Wednesday, joining Hideo Nomo as the only Japanese pitchers to hurl a no-hitter.
Iwakuma said he'd won Player of the Month honors in Japan during his 11 years in the Pacific League, but he was still absorbing his first similar MLB award.
"To be honest, I just found out now. I don't know what to say," Iwakuma said through translator Antony Suzuki. "I've only seen it on the news in the past. It's obviously an honor, but it hasn't hit me yet."
Iwakuma missed 11 weeks earlier in the season with a strained lat muscle. He's 4-2 with a 3.86 ERA in 11 starts, including 7-1 with a 2.47 ERA over his past seven outings. Iwakuma will make his next start Tuesday against the Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington, and manager Lloyd McClendon said he just needs to keep doing the same things that have worked so well in recent starts.
"He's healthy, he's throwing the ball well," McClendon said. "He's giving us consistent innings and we need him to continue to do that. We need him to stay healthy and continue to go out and go deep in ballgames for us. And if he wants to throw another no-hitter, that would be just fine, too."
Iwakuma's no-hitter is the fourth in the Majors this season, but the first in the AL since Hernandez threw a perfect game on Aug. 15, 2012, against the Rays. There have been three National League no-hitters this season: Philadelphia's Cole Hamels against the Cubs on July 25, Washington's Max Scherzer against the Pirates on June 20 and San Francisco's Chris Heston against the Mets on June 9.
Seattle has thrown the past three no-hitters in the AL, with a combined gem on June 8, 2012, and Hernandez's perfect game two months later. All three of those no-hitters came at Safeco Field.
Iwakuma is the 17th pitcher in big league history to throw a no-hitter in his first complete game. Prior to the Mariners, the Yankees were the last team to throw three consecutive no-hitters in the AL, as they got historic games from Dwight Gooden, David Wells and David Cone between 1996 and '99.
The Mariners right-hander became the oldest pitcher -- at 34 years and 122 days -- to throw his first no-hitter since Cone (36 years old) in 1999. Iwakuma's no-hitter was the 23rd in Major League history thrown by a pitcher 34 or older.