Iwakuma crisp in extended start for Mariners in tie
Right-hander tosses four shutout innings; Morrison hits first spring homer
By AJ Cassavell
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Seattle's Hisashi Iwakuma and Chicago's Jeff Samardzija looked strong in the early going as the Mariners and White Sox battled to a 5-5 tie at Camelback Ranch on Tuesday.
Logan Morrison put the Mariners on top with a home run, his first of the spring, to right-center field in the top of the fourth inning. He added a triple in the sixth to raise his Cactus League batting average to .320.
Iwakuma, meanwhile, outpitched Samardzija with four scoreless frames. Samardzija began the day with three shutout innings, before allowing a run each in the fourth and fifth.
Iwakuma and Samardzija might not be considered aces within their respective pitching staffs. (There's no shame at all in following Felix Hernandez or Chris Sale.) But they'd each sit atop a good number of Major League rotations, and they showed why on Tuesday.
The White Sox threatened against Iwakuma in the bottom of the third, when J.B. Shuck recorded a one-out bloop hit that dropped just behind the pitcher's mound. Micah Johnson, who remains among the Cactus League's batting average leaders, followed with a single, but Iwakuma stranded both runners in scoring position by getting Melky Cabrera to fly out and Jose Abreu to pop out.
"I'm not 100 percent there yet, but I'm getting closer," said Iwakuma, who threw 60 pitches, 43 for strikes. "I feel like I'm in game mode now. Hopefully, now it will pick up another notch."
Shuck, who had a pair of hits, replaced center fielder Adam Eaton in the lineup after Eaton was a late scratch because of a stomach bug. Johnson filled Eaton's role in the leadoff spot.
"I liked his last at-bat," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said of Thompson. "I think he puts a lot of pressure on himself. He's got a ton of talent, [he's a] good kid and I think he just needs to go out and play with the confidence that he should have. He can do everything on the field."
Up next: The Mariners return home to host the rival A's in Peoria, Ariz., on Wednesday at 1:05 p.m. PT, live on MLB.TV and Gameday Audio. Erasmo Ramirez is slated to start for Seattle as he fights to remain in contention for the Mariners' final rotation spot with Taijuan Walker and Roenis Elias.
Ramirez will look to build upon a solid last outing in which he allowed just one run on two hits and no walks in three innings against the Rockies.
AJ Cassavell is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.