Hisashi Iwakuma was named the American League player of the week on Monday afternoon. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering what he accomplished last week.
He tossed the fourth no-hitter of the season, limiting the Orioles to just three base on balls in nine innings. He became the second Japanese-born player to throw a no-hitter. Hideo Nomo threw two of the them in his career.
Manager Lloyd McClendon expected Iwakuma to win the award.
“He threw a no-hitter!” he said. “What the hell? I would say yes.”
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Iwakuma wasn’t even aware that he had received the award. It wasn’t until Rick Rizzs, the Mariners’ radio play-by-play man, congratulated him on it in the clubhouse that he was informed.
“I don’t know what to say,” he said through interpreter Antony Suzuki. “I’ve only seen about (the award) on the news and it’s all I have knowledge-wise. It’s obviously an honor.”
Iwakuma became the first Mariners’ pitcher to win the award since Felix Hernandez was named player of the week on June 9 of 2014.
The Mariners have had two player of the week winners this season. Brad Miller picked up the honor on May 18 and Nelson Cruz on April 20.
Since returning from the disabled list on July 6, Iwakuma has made eight starts and is 4-1 with a 3.05 ERA. He’s struck out 47 batters in 56 innings pitched with just nine walks.”
“He’s healthy and throwing the ball well,” McClendon said. “He’s giving us consistent innings and we need him to continue to do that. We need him to continue to go deep in ball games for us. If he wants to throw another no hitter, I’d be just fine with that.”
Iwakuma threw 116 pitches in the no-hitter and 118 in his start before that. But McClendon isn’t worried about his pitch count for Tuesday’s start.
“No concern at all,” McClendon said. “Obviously, the heat in this ballpark takes its toll, but hopefully he can be more efficient than that.”
Iwakuma got an extra day of rest with the Thursday off day and it was helpful.
“I’ve prepared the same way I usually do,” he said. “That’s not going to change. I’m going to keep the same approach.”
The Mariners made an expected roster move, switching out relievers after a taxing weekend in Boston. Left-hander Edgar Olmos was scratched from his start on Sunday for Class AAA Tacoma and was recalled on Monday morning. The Rainiers are playing in Oklahoma City so it was a quick trip. Olmos replaces lefty Rob Rasmussen, who was optioned to Tacoma after appearing in all three games against the Red Sox, throwing 20, 24 and 33 pitches in his respective outings.
Olmos was claimed off waivers in November from the Marlins. He was designated for assignment before spring training when the Mariners signed Rickie Weeks to a major league contract. The Rangers claimed Olmos off of waivers and brought him to spring. But he was returned to the Mariners after a dispute about a shoulder issue, saying Olmos was hurt when he was claimed. The waivers claim was voided and Olmos was returned to the Mariners.
He was hurt. Olmos had told the Mariners he was dealing with shoulder stiffness in January and it persisted into spring training. The Rangers found an impingement near his posterior cuff in his shoulder during his routine physical.
“Yeah, I let them know in January that it wasn’t feeling 100 percent, so they were monitoring it,” he said. “We kind of did some prehab stuff with it, just to keep it under control, but it got a little worse. When I went over to Texas, that’s when the doctor found out it was posterior cuff impingement. So they sent me back here, I got healthy and now I’m happy.”
He wasn’t healthy immediately.
“It took from April to June,” he said. “In June, I finally felt back to my old self. And after five outings, I felt like, ‘OK, I’m good. I’m in the clear.’”
Olmos made 18 relief appearances and was then added to the rotation to get stretched out. He’s made two starts. Overall, he’s 1-1 with a save and a 3.55 ERA. But he has pitched better in recent weeks, posting a 1.53 ERA in his last nine outings.
“I came up to Triple-A in late May against the Iowa Cubs,” he said. “I was throwing strikes, but they were hitting strikes, very hard. I felt good, I just knew my arm strength wasn’t 100 percent back. I didn’t have the fastball I’ve had or the breaking ball I usually have. So I was just pitching, but they were hitting.”
Olmos has appeared in five MLB games – all with the Marlins – posting a 7.20 ERA.
“It feels good,” he said of being back. “I believe I’m a big league pitcher. If I have confidence in myself, I’ll be able to perform better. I feel like I belong.”
Mariners numbers vs. Rangers’ starter Cole Hamels
Taijuan Walker has made one start against the Rangers in his career. It came earlier this season in a 3-1 win at Globe Life Park. He pitched seven innings, allowing one unearned run on six hits with a walk and five strikeouts.
The Rangers made an adjustment to their rotation, moving lefty Martin Perez back to Thursday and putting lefty Derek Holland into Wednesday’s start.