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Felix Hernandez has been a solitary hero for much of his time as Seattle Mariners ace. Michael Pineda was a great sidekick in 2011 and Erik Bedard, Cliff Lee and Brandon Morrow brought some intrigue for short stretches, but Felix has spent far too much time as the only compelling member of the Mariner rotation since his rise to stardom.
2013 could have easily been "Felix and everyone else" but Hisashi Iwakuma has been out to prove that his starts are worth circling on the calendar.
Iwakuma only made it through 5 innings and walked 3 hitters -- more free passes than his first four starts combined -- but still put together another strong and entertaining start. Iwakuma's splitter was as vicious as we've come to expect, contributing to 11 strikeouts and 16 swinging strikes.
Whiffs and strikeouts are just about the most exciting thing a pitcher can do, and totals like that separate Iwakuma from those lower in the Mariner rotation. Felix and Iwakuma are responsible for both the top five strikeout and top five swinging strike performances so far this season. How well Iwakuma keeps it up remains to be seen, but having a one-two punch has provided a nice break from the blah that is Joe Saunders, Aaron Harang, Blake Beavan and even Brandon Maurer.
In a season that has already produced its share of hair-pulling and head-desks, it's fun to see a starter not named Felix garnering fist pumps. As someone obligated to watch a lot of Mariners baseball, I certainly appreciate it.
Unfortunately, the Mariner offense couldn't ... you know. Scattered singles, double plays and strikeouts. And while Raul Ibanez gave nothing with his bat, he gave less with his glove. Astros win 3-2.
- Michael Morse has 5 hits and 10 strikeouts in 35 plate appearances since breaking his pinky.
- Say what you will about Minute Maid Park's abnormal dimensions and field features; one thing I love about the park is that balls that are hit a long way look like they were hit a long way. Some parks have stadium seating as far as the eye can see and absorb home runs, making a 450 foot shot look a lot like a 390 foot shot. The Astro's park is littered with landmarks that provide perspective.
Jesus Montero hit a 441 foot blast Monday night off the facade out in left-center field. On Tuesday night, Kendrys Morales went 443 feet in the same general direction. Montero's was a missile while Morales's was a high-arcing moonshot that deserved to be watched.