Taking 116 pitches and plenty of close calls into the ninth inning, Hisashi Iwakuma became the fourth pitcher to hurl a no-hitting this season, blanking the Orioles 3-0. Although he walked three batters, he took little time in putting away a stagnant hitting Baltimore lineup en route to becoming the second Mariner to toss a gem (Felix Hernandez went perfect in 2012) and second Japanese-born player to throw one (Hideo Nomo was the other).
Overall, four no-hitters have been thrown at Safeco Field since it opened in 1999, making it the most no-hitter friendly park in the big leagues during that span. Iwakuma worked through nine innings like a champ, receiving offensive support from Franklin Gutierrez, Austin Jackson, and Robinson Cano. The Mariners were without the services of Nelson Cruz, who was nursing a neck injury.
Iwakuma (4-2) lowered his ERA to 3.86 while striking out seven Orioles hitters before 25,661 Safeco fans enjoying an unusually brisk 68 degree game time temperature. He produced 12 ground ball outs and eight fly outs to become yet another older pitcher (34) to produce a gem. This season, Cole Hamels, Chris Heston, Max Scherzer, and now Iwakuma have tossed hitless contests, coming one day after all 15 teams won home games - a MLB first.
Seattle had another combined no-hitter in 2012, with Kevin Millwood and five relievers shutting down the Dodgers 1-0. For a Seattle team struggling this season to manufacture runs and victories, and with Felix Hernandez showing signs he's finally touchable, the Iwakuma no-hitter could really boost the team moving forward. Iwakuma began the season on the DL and has been off since his return.
Gerardo Parra produced the final out of the game, flying out to Austin Jackson to end the spectacular defensive day for Seattle. The no-hitter also came nearly three years to the day since King Felix hurled his perfect game (August 15, 2012). The Orioles haven't been no-hit since 2007 when Clay Buchholz no-hit them 10-0, but even more interesting, Iwakuma had never completed a start in 84 contests coming into this - let alone toss a no hitter.
Seattle came into the game riding a nice 7-3 streak in their last 10 games and are surprisingly only 6.5 games outside of the wildcard race. With 47 games left, however, Seattle will need another no-hitter (or 10) to be considered formidable threats in American League West play. Seattle can continue their upward hike and win back their skeptical fans by closing the season out 81-81.
[Photo by Otto Greule Jr / Getty Images Sport]