Cruz homers in Mariners' 5-2 win over Angels in 10
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Hisashi Iwakuma got the assignment a day earlier than he expected because Felix Hernandez was scratched with a case of the flu.
The Japanese right-hander responded with a clutch performance, pitching eight strong innings Friday night, and the Seattle Mariners beat the Los Angeles Angels 5-2 in 10 after pinch-hitter Franklin Gutierrez came through with a tiebreaking RBI single and Nelson Cruz added a two-run homer.
''When I first heard about it, at noon, I was a little surprised. But then I was able to switch my mind and fill in for Felix and for the team,'' Iwakuma said through a translator.
''I tried to stay normal and calm and take care of the routine that I usually went through. Then I went from there and wasn't too conscious about it. I'm very happy that I got to go eight innings and save the bullpen. That's what I had in mind. And at the end, we won. So it was a good game.''
Iwakuma allowed two runs and six hit, giving up solo homers to Kole Calhoun and C.J. Cron after getting staked to a 2-0 lead. The right-hander struck out three and walked one.
''I had four days rest, so physically I was fine,'' Iwakuma said after his 89-pitch effort.''Mentally, I felt pretty well, too, because of the fact that I've faced the Angels many times and I've done well in this ballpark.''
Hernandez spent the night back at the team's hotel after receiving some medication. If he is still under the weather on Saturday, manager Scott Servais said he may give the ball to reliever Mike Montgomery, who started 16 games as a rookie last season and had back-to-back shutouts in June.
''I can't say enough about what Kuma did,'' Servais said. ''I mean, getting a call at 12 o'clock today, saying `You're pitching,' and then going out and perform like that, it's awesome. It says a lot for him, to take the ball like that and not look back.''
''It's was pretty odd for Felix (to miss a start), because he takes the ball no matter what,'' Servais added. ''But he did not feel good at all, and I've got to trust the training staff here. They told me it would be best to give him a day off and make sure he's got his legs under him.''
No. 9 hitter Ketel Marte greeted Jose Alvarez (0-1) with a leadoff single in the 10th, advanced on a sacrifice by Norichika Aoki and scored when Gutierrez lined a 1-0 pitch to center field. Cruz then lined his third homer of the season just over the short fence in the left field corner on a full count.
''Marte jumped on the first pitch to get the inning going, Aoki executed the bunt, and it worked out great,'' Servais said. ''Guty gave us a good at-bat, didn't try to do too much and put a good swing on it. Then Cruz put a little icing on the cake.''
Joel Peralta (1-0) got the victory with a perfect inning of relief.
Steve Cishek pitched a perfect 10th for his fourth save in four chances.
Angels right-hander Nick Tropeano threw 96 pitches over 5 1/3 innings, allowing two runs, four hits and four walks while striking out five. He began the season at Triple-A, but was recalled to replace the injured Andrew Heaney in the rotation.
Tropeano found himself in a bases-loaded, no-out situation after his first 10 pitches, and the Mariners grabbed a 2-0 lead on sacrifice flies by Cruz and Adam Lind.
''My fastball command was poor early, but I thought I made a little bit of an adjustment after the first and executed those pitches early in the count instead of nit-picking at the corners,'' Tropeano said. ''I was being aggressive, feeding off that fastball command, and that makes every other pitch better.''
Calhoun got one of the runs back in the fourth with his second homer of the season. Cron tied it in the fifth with a leadoff homer to center field. The Angels got only one more hit after that.
Mariners: Cruz led the majors last season with 27 home runs on the road. ... Servais spent the previous four seasons as the Angels' assistant general manager. ... Iwakuma is 5-5 with a 3.35 ERA in 13 starts since his no-hitter against Baltimore on Aug. 12.
Angels: Tropeano picked off Aoki at first base in the second inning. ... Escobar robbed Cruz of extra bases with a diving grab across the third-base line to open the Mariners' eighth. Ortega threw out Lind trying to stretch his hit down the left-field line into a double leading off the ninth.
Mariners: Hernandez (1-1) is 7-2 with a 1.37 ERA in his last 14 starts against the Angels - including four last season in which he pitched at least six innings and allowed fewer than two runs.
Angels: LHP Hector Santiago (1-0) pitched seven innings of two-hit ball and struck out 10 last Monday in a 7-0 victory against the White Sox at Chicago. He is 3-0 over his last nine starts, and Los Angeles has won all of them.