Felix Hernandez’s perfect game on Aug. 15, 2012, was the last AL no-hitter and six Mariners combined on a no-hitter on June 8, 2012.
For a team that has struggled so mightily for more than a decade now, the Mariners have a bizarre monopoly over American League no-hitters.
Factoring in Hisashi Iwakuma’s Wednesday afternoon no-no in Seattle’s 3-0 win over the Orioles at Safeco Field, M’s hurlers have now thrown the last three by an AL team.
Kevin Milwood, Charlie Furbush, Stephen Pryor, Lucas Luetge, Brandon League and Tom Wilhelmsen all combined to blank the Dodgers on June 8, 2012, and Felix Hernandez threw the franchise’s only perfect game against Tampa Bay two months later.
Hernandez’s feat stood up as the last AL no-hitter until Wednesday, a span that has included 12 in the National League. There have been three NL no-nos this season.
“I think the outs are tougher (in the AL),” explained Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon, who also managed the Pittsburgh Pirates from 2001 through 2005. “The lineups are deeper. In the American League, the DHs are animals. They’re tough outs. There are really no easy outs in the American League.”
Iwakuma certainly had to grind through some innings on Wednesday afternoon, walking a pair of Orioles in the fourth and another in the eighth. When he got Gerardo Parra to line out to end the game, noted Mariner killer Adam Jones was standing in the on-deck circle.
Making Japanese history
Wednesday’s no-hitter was the first of Iwakuma’s career, the fifth in Mariners history and the second all-time by a Japanese-born pitcher in MLB.
It was that last stat that seemed to affect Iwakuma most deeply afterward. When he was asked what it meant to be mentioned in the same breath as countryman Hideo Nomo, who threw two no-nos in his career, the words caught in Iwakuma’s throat.
“I can’t find the words to express my feelings,” he said through an interpreter. “I’m truly happy.”
McClendon admitted afterward that the righty wouldn’t have been his first guess to as the guy to break the AL’s no-hitter drought. Hernandez is the obvious choice, but the manager also mentioned young righty Taijuan Walker as the type of power arm who can catch lightning in a bottle when everything is clicking.
Iwakuma was thought to be too finesse, too much of an artist.
“To be honest with you, I never thought I would accomplish this no-hitter,” Iwakuma said. “A lot of that goes to my teammates who played great defense today and gave us three runs early. My family that was here at the game today, I felt mentally strong with them being around.
“The fans were great, very supportive. I felt the fans a lot, toward the end especially. It means a lot to me, accomplishing this in a Seattle Mariners uniform.”
Other no-hitter fun facts
• Safeco Field has seen four no-hitters in its history, including two perfect games. Chicago’s Philip Humber blanked the M’s earlier in the same year that Hernandez accomplished his feat, and Safeco has now hosted the last three AL no-nos.
• Jesus Sucre is the fifth different Mariner catcher to catch a no-hitter. Scott Bradley caught Randy Johnson’s in June 1990, Dave Valle caught Chris Bosio’s, Jesus Montero caught the combined no-no and John Jaso caught Hernandez’s perfect game.
• Wednesday wasn’t just notable as Iwakuma’s first no-hitter: It was also his first career complete game and first shutout.
|Quite a recovery|
|Hisashi Iwakuma improved to 3-1 with a 3.05 ERA since coming off the disabled list on July 6. Seattle is 6-2 in games he started.|
|8/12||Orioles||W, 3-0||No-hitter, 3 walks, 7 K’s, 116 pitches|
|8/7||Rangers||W, 4-3||6 hits, 3 runs, 0 walks, 6 K’s, 118 pitches in 6 innings|
|8/2||@Twins||W, 4-1||3 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 7 K’s in 8.2 innings|
|7/28||Diamondbacks||L, 8-4||10 hits, 6 runs, 1 walk, 5 K’s in 5.2 innings|
|7/23||@Tigers||W, 3-2||6 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, 7 K’s in 7 innings|
|7/18||@Yankees||W, 4-3||5 hits, 2 runs, 0 walks, 5 K’s in 5.2 innings|
|7/11||Angels||W, 5-0||3 hits, 2 walks, 6 K’s in 8 innings|
|7/6||Tigers||L, 12-5||8 hits, 5 runs, 0 walks, 3 K’s in 5 innings|