The Mariners got to experience what the rest of baseball has been bleating about since spring training — the Chicago Cubs are good. Cubs hitters beat up on Hisashi Iwakuma and then pummeled the Mariners’ bullpen while Jon Lester tossed six scoreless innings in a 12-1 rout.
CHICAGO — The Mariners got to experience what the rest of baseball has been bleating about since spring training — the Chicago Cubs are good.
The favorite to win the World Series according to Las Vegas and most baseball “experts” looked every bit the part Friday in Seattle’s first game at Wrigley Field since June 14, 2007.
The Mariners looked quite the opposite in a 12-1 rout.
Cubs hitters beat up on starter Hisashi Iwakuma and then pummeled the Mariners’ bullpen while Jon Lester tossed six shutout innings to improve to 11-4. Seattle dropped to 51-50, while the Cubs are now 62-40.
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“That’s a bad day,” Mariners manager Scott Servais. “It’s unfortunate. We’ve got to get better playing in these day games for whatever reason. That’s a good club, and we’ve got to come out ready from the first inning on.”
How bad was it? Luis Sardinas was the only Seattle pitcher who took the mound in the game to not give up a run. He pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning, which was only the second inning of the game where the Cubs didn’t put a runner on base. The slight problem being that Sardinas is a utility infielder throwing 75 mph fastballs.
“They told me to throw the ball in the middle,” he said. “I didn’t think too much.”
The Cubs banged out 14 hits and took a lead in the second inning in a game that never felt close.
Perhaps in a show of mercy by Mother Nature, the predicted rain that was forecasted finally made conditions unplayable in the middle of the seventh inning, halting play.
The rain wasn’t enough to end the game early in mercy, but the 1-hour, 14-minute delay did lessen the onslaught of runs by the Cubs. They still scored a run off Tom Wilhelmsen right out of the rain delay after loading the bases with one out.
Iwakuma, the Mariners’ most consistent starter this season, worked just three innings, giving up five runs on eight hits with a walk and two strikeouts. He threw just 60 pitches.
“Iwakuma just wasn’t on,” Servais said. “He had some (shoulder) tightness early, and it was tough for him to get loose. When he did get loose, he wasn’t sharp and he missed over the plate a lot against a good offensive club and it was a rough day.”
The Cubs broke it open in the second inning. A swinging-bunt single by Javier Baez with one out started the problems. Light-hitting backup catcher David Ross followed with a single to left, and Lester sacrifice-bunted them up a base.
With two outs, Iwakuma threw a low, 3-2 splitfinger pitch out of the strike zone. Chris Coghlan somehow golfed it into center, a soft, looping hit that scored two runs and allowed him to advance to second on Leonys Martin’s throw home. Kris Bryant followed with the second of his three hits in the game, scoring Coghlan to make it 3-0.
Iwakuma wouldn’t use the tightness in his shoulder as an excuse.
“I’m OK,” he said through interpreter Antony Suzuki. “I just couldn’t keep the ball down. Everything I missed was up in the zone.”
It would get no better for Iwakuma.
In the fourth inning, he gave up a leadoff double and then later served up a 2-1 sinker that stayed up in the zone to Jason Heyward. Even with his power numbers down this season, Heyward isn’t going to miss a gift pitch like that. He drilled it over the wall in left-center for a two-run homer and a 5-0 lead.
At 60 pitches after three innings and not showing any signs of finding a rhythm, the Mariners lifted Iwakuma from the game.
“I never felt any tightness or soreness during the game,” Iwakuma said. “I was able to get loose. I just wasn’t able to execute when I wanted to.”
His replacement, Nathan Karns, didn’t fare much better. The one-time starter has yet to click at reliever and continued to struggle in the long-relief role. After two scoreless innings of work, Karns fell apart in the sixth inning. He gave up a solo homer to Ross to start the inning and then walked Lester, Coghlan and Bryant to load the bases. All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo cleared them with a double just inside the left-field line. It ended Karns’ day, but not the Cubs’ scoring.
“It got away from him,” Servais said. “I think stuff-wise he was just OK. We haven’t seen the tick up in his stuff that we thought we might get out of the bullpen. We have to evaluate where he’s at.”
Chicago tacked on two more runs in the inning on a sacrifice fly from Heyward and a single from Baez off Karns’ replacement, Vidal Nuno, to make it 11-0.
While the Cubs were taking turns circling the bases over the first six innings, Lester stymied the Mariners’ hitters. He wasn’t dominant but he worked out of minor jams. He pitched six shutout innings, giving up four hits with two walks and seven strikeouts.
“He was good,” Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano said. “He was locating his pitches. He was the same guy I saw in Boston. The guy knows how to pitch.”
The M’s picked up their lone run in the ninth inning off old friend Mike Montgomery, who was traded to the Cubs last week.
Montgomery worked a scoreless eighth, but Shawn O’Malley plated Martin with a single to provide Seattle’s only run.