Kuma's gem helps Mariners close in on Tigers

Kuma's gem helps Mariners close in on Tigers

SEATTLE -- The Mariners used seven scoreless innings from Hisashi Iwakuma and the powerful duo of newly acquired setup man Arquimedes Caminero and rookie closer Edwin Diaz to complete a 3-0 shutout of the Tigers in Monday night's series opener at Safeco Field.

"Last time we were in Detroit, they got us pretty well," Iwakuma said. "So it was payback time for myself and for the team as well."

The win was the Mariners' fourth in a row and brought them within 2 1/2 games of the Tigers in the race for the second American League Wild Card spot.

The Mariners, who rank third in the Major Leagues with 156 home runs, scored all their runs without any dingers. In the second inning they strung together three base hits and a walk to score two runs. Then in the eighth, they used a double by Norichika Aoki and an RBI single by Guillermo Heredia to provide some insurance.

"Nice to get the add-on run late," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "We haven't done that often this year."

Heredia's RBI single

Iwakuma turned in at least seven scoreless innings for the third time this season, scattering five hits while striking out a season-high-tying eight and walking one. Caminero, who was acquired on Sunday in a trade with the Pirates, took over to start the eighth and hit 101 mph with his fastball while delivering a 1-2-3 inning in his Mariners debut. Diaz, who officially took over the closer's role last week, retired the side in order in the ninth for his fifth save.

Tigers starter Michael Fulmer nearly matched Iwakuma. He only allowed the two second-inning runs, giving up five hits while striking out six over seven innings. But without any run support, he fell to 9-3 on the season.

"We just couldn't get much going offensively, and Michael Fulmer wasn't as sharp as he has been in the past," Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said. "He had a little trouble throwing strikes and getting ahead of hitters, but he ended up doing a really nice job, two runs over seven innings. But we couldn't really figure out Iwakuma."

Despite the loss, Fulmer performs like an ace

Fulmer's strong start

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Keep it to a minimum: Iwakuma faced the minimum in three of the seven innings he pitched. His defense helped him achieve that with a 5-4-3 double play in the third inning. Iwakuma started the inning by giving up a single to Ian Kinsler. But with one out, Seager fielded a ground ball from Miguel Cabrera and tossed it to Robinson Cano to get Kinsler out at second. Cano fired the ball to Adam Lind at first to throw out Cabrera.

Iwakuma's scoreless start

Seattle strikes first: The Mariners took the lead in the second and didn't look back. Nelson Cruz led off the inning with a double and scored on Kyle Seager's single. Seager moved into scoring position when Leonys Martin walked, and Mike Zunino's RBI single made it 2-0.

"Fulmer has great stuff," Zunino said. "He's having a great year and he's throwing really well. So to be able to get to him there was huge, and luckily we were able to keep some runs off the scoreboard. But these low-scoring games are what we're built for."

Zunino's RBI single

Miggy can pick it, too: Cabrera showed he's no slouch at first base by starting and finishing a nifty double play in the fourth inning. After Cruz's leadoff single, Seager hit a bullet of a grounder to first base. Cabrera went to his knees to backhand the ball, threw off-balance to shortstop Jose Iglesias to get Cruz at second and then ran back to first in time to receive Iglesias' throw and complete a highlight-reel 3-6-3 twin killing.

Cabrera's diving play

QUOTABLE
"Early on, I thought he wasn't feeling great. I almost thought there might be something wrong with him because he came out not throwing real hard. But clearly he was fine. He had a very good game plan and executed it very well." -- Ausmus, on Iwakuma

"It was nice to catch him instead of hit against him like we did in Pittsburgh." -- Zunino, on Caminero

Seager on the bullpen

WHAT'S NEXT
Tigers: Left-hander Daniel Norris will make his fourth start of the season for Detroit as the series continues on Tuesday night. The 23-year-old has made 14 starts for Triple-A Toledo, his last coming Thursday night. Norris faced the Mariners on June 23 in Detroit, allowing three runs in five innings.

Mariners: Wade LeBlanc will make his seventh appearance and sixth start for the Mariners on Tuesday night. The left-hander is 1-0 with one save, and Seattle is 5-1 in his six outings. First pitch at Safeco Field is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. PT.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Maddie Lee is a reporter for MLB.com based in Seattle who covered the Mariners on Monday.

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com based in Seattle who covered the Tigers on Monday. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.