Franklin Gutierrez gives the Mariners the lead in the 10th, then Nelson Cruz adds some insurance with a two-run home run.
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Asked to move up a day and start Friday night in place of Felix Hernandez, who was ill, veteran right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma stepped in and delivered his best outing of the season for the Mariners.
Unfortunately for Iwakuma, he got the typical minimal run support that Hernandez usually receives.
But while Iwakuma wasn’t rewarded with his first win of the season, the Mariners prevailed in extra innings. After managing just two first-inning runs in the first nine innings, Seattle exploded for three runs in the top of the 10th to pull out a 5-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels.
“I told you we were going to play tight games all year,” manager Scott Servais said. “You might as well get comfortable. Our team better get comfortable. We even talk about it on the bench.”
Franklin Gutierrez came off the bench and delivered in a clutch situation in the top of the 10th. With one out and Ketel Marte on second, Gutierrez sat on a 1-0 changeup and lined a single up the middle off lefty Jose Alvarez. Marte never hesitated to test the arm of center fielder Mike Trout, racing home and beating the throw with ease for the go-ahead run.
“It worked out great,” Servais said. “Guti gave us a great at-bat. He wasn’t trying to do too much. He gave us a good swing.”
Nelson Cruz provided insurance, yanking a 3-2 slider over the wall in left field for a two-run homer. Cruz’s third homer of the season gave Seattle closer Steve Cishek plenty of cushion. But it wasn’t needed. Cishek pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the 10th to notch his fourth save of the season.
Joel Peralta picked up a deserved win in relief. Peralta retired the dangerous trio of Trout, Albert Pujols and Kole Calhoun in order in the ninth with the score tied 2-2.
“It was really satisfying,” Peralta said. “Tough inning and tough part of the lineup. Pujols really gave me a battle (flying out to deep center field). I’m glad I got him out. I threw him everything.”
Seattle (8-8) reached .500 and improved to 5-2 on the road trip.
Iwakuma pitched a season-high eight innings, giving up two runs on six hits with a walk and three strikeouts. He threw just 89 pitches over the eight innings and got 10 ground-ball outs.
“I can’t say enough about what Kuma did,” Servais said. “Getting the call at 12 o’clock today and saying you’re pitching and then going out and performing like that. That’s awesome. It says a lot (about) him.”
The Mariners gave him an early 2-0 lead, scoring a pair of runs in the top of the first against Angels starter Nick Tropeano. Though perhaps they should have had more considering his early struggles.
Seattle loaded the bases without any outs on a leadoff double from Norichika Aoki, a Seth Smith walk and a hard single to right from Robinson Cano. Cruz plated the first run with a sacrifice fly to deep right field. After Kyle Seager worked a walk to load the bases again, Adam Lind hit a sacrifice fly to center to score another run. But after Chris Iannetta struck out looking to end the inning, there was the feeling of a missed opportunity.
Seattle never got another chance like that against Tropeano. Though Tropeano wasn’t dominant, the Mariners hitters never put together a real scoring threat over the next four innings. They did run up his pitch count enough to force him out of the game with one out in the top of the sixth.
Filling in for the Hernandez, Iwakuma had a solid start, but made two regrettable pitches.
After getting Albert Pujols to ground into his second double play of the game for two quick outs in the fourth inning, Iwakuma threw a first-pitch curveball to the muscular Calhoun. The hanging breaking pitch was belt high and down the middle. Calhoun hammered it into the right-field seats for his second homer of the season to cut the lead to 2-1.
An inning later, Iwakuma threw a 0-1 splitfinger that stayed just high enough in the strike zone to allow first baseman C.J. Cron to get his arms extended and drive it into the bushes behind the center-field wall. The leadoff homer tied the score at 2-2 and was measured at 426 feet by MLB statcast.
“I tried to stay normal,” Iwakuma said through interpreter Antony Suzuki. “It came up all of a sudden and I just had to take care of my routine that I usually go through.
“Overall, I think my fastball was pretty sharp and crisp. It’s starting to come back to where I want it to be at this time of the year.”