Iwakuma rebounds nicely after rough start

Iwakuma rebounds nicely after rough start

SEATTLE -- Hisashi Iwakuma's four-game losing streak, tied for a career high, is deceptive. It doesn't reflect the three quality starts he's had in that period of time and especially doesn't indicate the command he exhibited in the Mariners' 4-2 loss Sunday.

"I hate to think where we'd be without him this year," manager Scott Servais said. "He's been very valuable."

On Sunday, Iwakuma showed yet again that he wouldn't be fazed by missteps in the first inning. He allowed three runs in seven innings, two of which he gave up in the first. He scattered eight hits and pitched his way out of a sixth inning jam, stranding two and only letting one run score.

"He could have very easily gone seven innings with giving up one run," catcher Chris Iannetta said. "Just the way it goes sometimes."

Back-to-back homers from Albert Pujols and C.J. Cron could shake anyone. They were the third and fourth batters Iwakuma faced, and he left two pitches up: a slider to Pujols and a fastball to Cron. But he got a ground-ball out from Andrelton Simmons the next at-bat to end the inning and was solid from then on.

"He's a consummate professional," Iannetta said. "He's extremely prepared for one thing, he's a command guy and he's got great stuff. So you put all those things together, and it makes for getting back on track much easier."

For Iwakuma, it's all about focusing on getting deep into games. That's a starting pitcher's job, the way he sees it.

"You don't want to give up any more runs than two going forward," he said through his translator Antony Suzuki of how he turned his outing around. "So just being aware to keep the ball down in the zone and attack the hitter and that approach got me through seven innings."

Maddie Lee is a reporter for MLB.com based in Seattle. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.