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Hisashi Iwakuma returns from Japan, fans 13 Blue Jays

Jul 31, 2012, 12:56 AM EDT

Hisashi Iwakuma Reuters

A whirlwind week for Seattle’s Hisashi Iwakuma culminated in far and away the best start of his major league career Monday against the Blue Jays.

Iwakuma, just back from Japan after returning home to visit his ailing father, limited the Jays to one run in eight innings and struck out 13 in his second big-league victory.

A mop-up man after a poor spring, he didn’t even make his first appearance until the Mariners’ 15th game of the year. As of May 30, he had pitched all of five times. However, he started getting more work last month and he moved into the rotation earlier in July. He’s now put together three very good starts in a row, allowing four runs over 19 innings against the Rays, Yankees and Blue Jays.

The 31-year-old Iwakuma was a very successful pitcher in Japan, so the first few months in the U.S. had to be quite a shock for him. He may not have many more starts like this, but he looks like a perfectly legitimate third or fourth starter for Seattle. With the way he’s coming along, he might make Jason Vargas more expendable.

  1. sportfan23 - Jul 31, 2012 at 2:44 AM

    “Didn’t even made” eh….nice one.

  2. mmason0071 - Jul 31, 2012 at 1:08 PM

    Iwakuma is no Cy Young candidate and looked terrible in the spring, but once he rebuilt his arm strength and learned how to get movement on his pitches with an American baseball he became a pretty respectable starter/ long relief guy. Should get some money next year.

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