The Mariners won their fifth straight as Hisashi Iwakuma set a franchise rookie record for strikeouts.
Steve Delabar and Brandon League entered the Mariners clubhouse after Monday’s 4-1 victory over the Blue Jays, eager to celebrate the surging ballclub’s fifth straight victory and a brilliant outing by starter Hisashi Iwakuma.
Instead, the two relievers were hastily called aside and told they had been traded. Like Ichiro last week, Delabar will merely have to move down the hall. He was sent to Toronto for outfielder Eric Thames, a left-handed hitter who will join the Mariners on Tuesday.
League, an All-Star last year, was sent to the Dodgers for two minor-leaguers, right-handed pitcher Logan Bawcom, who had 13 saves and a 2.60 earned-run average in 27 games for Class AA Chattanooga, and outfielder Leon Landry, hitting .328 with eight homers for Class A Rancho Cucamonga.
“As soon as I came in clubhouse, I was about to celebrate Iwakuma’s great game and (Lucas) Luetge’s first save, and they pulled me aside and told me I was heading over to the other clubhouse,” Delabar said.
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League had a similar story following the game, in which Iwakuma set a Mariners rookie record with 13 strikeouts while limiting the Jays — the top scoring team in the majors — to four hits and a run.
League said he gave a couple of high fives before he was summoned to the office with general manager Jack Zduriencik and manager Eric Wedge. With the trade deadline looming at 1 p.m. Tuesday, rumors had been swirling around League, who can be a free agent after the season.
“You can’t ignore the rumors,” he said. “The deadline is the deadline. The past two years I’ve been hearing stuff, whether it’s the deadline or the offseason. I’ve said nothing but expressed how much I love Seattle and want to stay here. But I’m a free agent at the end of the year. You never know what’s going to happen. This happened.”
He joins a Dodgers team battling the Giants in the NL West race.
“New league, new hitters, new teammates,” he said. “It’s definitely an exciting time. I can’t express how thankful I am to the city of Seattle, Jack and Eric. But it’s a new chapter in my life for me and my family. Now I’ll help the Dodgers try to win a ring.”
Delabar’s personal narrative of going from high school substitute teacher in Kentucky to major-league reliever last year garnered considerable attention.
“I thanked them (the Mariners) for what they let me do, giving me the opportunity to get up here,” he said. “My emotions now, I’m kind of up in the air. I don’t know what kind of role I’m going to have over there. I just know it’s probably going to be out of the bullpen.”
Bawcom will report to Class AA Jackson, Landry to Class A High Desert. After striking out three times in Monday’s game, Carlos Peguero was packing his things and shaking hands with teammates, apparently having been sent back down to Tacoma.
General manager Jack Zduriencik said Thames, a career .257 hitter with 15 homers in 141 major-league games, will likely enter a platoon situation in the Seattle outfield. He’s hitting .335 in 53 games with Class AAA Las Vegas, with six homers and 32 RBI.
“He’s had a real nice year in Triple-A,” Zduriencik said. “He’s a great kid, and he has options left. It’s good to get a kid of his experience who has done the things he’s done.”
And just for added spice, Toronto outfielder Travis Snider, from Mill Creek’s Jackson High School, was traded during the game to Pittsburgh for right-handed pitcher Brad Lincoln.
Iwakuma turned in the kind of performance on Monday designed to thrill the home crowd — at least that portion not rooting vociferously for the visiting team.
In front of a Safeco crowd of 22,443 heavily populated with Blue Jays fans, Iwakuma gave the Mariners the showing they needed with not only League and Delabar out of commission, but also Tom Wilhelmsen. The closer was with his wife, expecting their first child.
Iwakuma surpassed the previous rookie strikeout record of 12 was held by an elite trio: Mark Langston (three times), Randy Johnson and Freddy Garcia. Iwakuma did this performance after flying to Japan last Thursday to see his ailing father. He returned on Saturday.
“He was fantastic tonight,” Wedge said. “We really needed him to step up. Obviously, we were very short in the pen. For him to go eight strong innings was just a great performance by Iwakuma.”
Iwakuma’s strikeout list included Brett Lawrie of Langley, B.C. four times. After the third one, Lawrie broke his bat over his knee in frustration. Lawrie also had an error that led to a Mariner run in the second inning.
“The very first hitter got a home run (Rajai Davis, for Toronto’s only run),” Iwakuma said through his interpreter. “After that, I just calmed down, concentrated, slowed things down and kept the ball down, and I was able to get 13 strikeouts.”
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.