Iwakuma throws no-hitter against Orioles

Seattle Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma poses for photos in front of the scoreboard at Safeco Field in Seattle on Aug. 12, 2015, after throwing a no-hitter in a 3-0 win over the Baltimore Orioles. Iwakuma became the first Japanese pitcher to throw a major league no-hitter since Hideo Nomo, who did so twice in 1996 and 2001. Kyodo News photo

Seattle Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma poses for photos in front of the scoreboard at Safeco Field in Seattle on Aug. 12, 2015, after throwing a no-hitter in a 3-0 win over the Baltimore Orioles. Iwakuma became the first Japanese pitcher to throw a major league no-hitter since Hideo Nomo, who did so twice in 1996 and 2001. Kyodo News photo

SEATTLE — Seattle Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma became the first Japanese pitcher since Hideo Nomo to throw a major league no-hitter on Aug. 12 when he held the Baltimore Orioles hitless in his team’s 3-0 win.

The 34-year-old Iwakuma threw 116 pitches, striking out seven batters and walking three, in the fifth no-hitter in Mariners history and first in the American league since Seattle ace Felix Hernandez hurled a perfect game in 2012.

“I felt (the situation) deep in my heart in the ninth inning,” Iwakuma said. “I just focused in on one hitter at a time and got it done.”
Iwakuma issued a leadoff walk in the fourth inning to Manny Machado, who reached second on a fielder’s choice groundout. But Machado would be the only Orioles runner to reach scoring position on the day. Following a strikeout and a two-out walk, Iwakuma got Jimmy Paredes to strike out swinging to end the threat.

The eighth inning also started with a walk, but Iwakuma’s no-hit bid remained intact as Ryan Flaherty struck out and Caleb Joseph grounded into a double play.

In an adrenaline-filled ninth inning at Safeco Field, Iwakuma got the first out when third baseman Kyle Seager made an over-the shoulder basket catch on a popup in foul territory. A sharp grounder to Seager from Machado led to the second out. Finally, after Gerardo Parra lined out to center field, the stands erupted in a standing ovation while Iwakuma’s teammates mobbed him on the mound.

“When Seager made that catch in the ninth, I felt like this is something I have to get done,” Iwakuma said.

Seattle gave Iwakuma two runs to work with in the third on a Franklin Gutierrez RBI double and a Robinson Cano RBI single, and then added another on an RBI double by Jesus Sucre in the third. And once the game got into the fifth with Iwakuma getting sharper and sharper, Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon was faced with a dilemma.
“I’m just glad it’s over with, because I had to pee since the fifth inning and I didn’t want to get up,” the skipper said. “Nobody said anything to him. You let him go and he’s in his groove. I’m sure he was fatigued, but what are you going to do. I thought in the fifth inning his stuff was really sharp and his split was really crisp.”

Iwakuma said he felt his splitter came together midway through the game. Nomo, the only other Japanese pitcher to throw a no-hitter in the major leagues, managed the feat twice in his career, first in 1996 against the Colorado Rockies, and again in 2001 against the Orioles. Like Nomo, Iwakuma also began his professional career with the now defunct Kintetsu Buffaloes in Japan’s Pacific League.

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