SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Hisashi Iwakuma was "up" for his first spring game for the Mariners on Friday -- an 8-2 loss to Texas -- but that's not a good thing for a pitcher who lives on his nasty splitter down in the zone.The 35-year-old right-hander normally relies on his exceptional
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Hisashi Iwakuma was "up" for his first spring game for the Mariners on Friday -- an 8-2 loss to Texas -- but that's not a good thing for a pitcher who lives on his nasty splitter down in the zone.
The 35-year-old right-hander normally relies on his exceptional command, but he couldn't find that touch in his Cactus League debut, surrendering three hits, a run and a walk in a two-inning stint that included a number of hard-hit line drives and fly balls.
Iwakuma was helped out by an 8-4-5 double play, when center fielder Jarrod Dyson and second baseman Robinson Cano threw out Ryan Rua trying to stretch a double in the second. But he gave up a first-pitch double to Carlos Gomez leading off the first, with Gomez eventually scoring on a throwing error on right fielder Mitch Haniger. And four of his five outs -- besides the double play -- came on fly balls, which is unusual for Iwakuma.
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"Overall today, I didn't have a good feel for my pitches," Iwakuma said through interpreter Antony Suzuki. "I didn't have a very good bullpen, and I wasn't throwing a lot of strikes in the bullpen, so that's not a good sign.
"Being able to make that adjustment, I was able to throw strikes early in counts and that helped a lot. But overall, the pitches were up in the zone and that's something I need to work on. I did have more adrenaline rush going, facing the Rangers. But we're just out there in my first game and you want to test things and I was able to do what I needed to do."
In other words, Iwakuma got his work in, throwing 26 pitches and setting himself up for his second step when he starts Wednesday against the Indians in Peoria, Ariz. The veteran pencils in as Seattle's No. 2 or 3 starter after going 16-12 with a 4.12 ERA in 33 starts last season.
"I don't worry too much about the results," Iwakuma said. "It's early and we're all testing things. But as an end result, I did give up a lot of fly-ball outs, so that's something I need to think about and just work on keeping the ball down."
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter [
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