It’s been an up-and-down season for Mariners pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma, but judging by his no-hit performance on Wednesday afternoon, he’s found his groove.
Iwakuma threw the first complete game and shutout of his MLB career in grand fashion, holding the Baltimore Orioles hitless for the fifth no-hitter in Mariners history. It’s a good sign for Iwakuma, who spent two months on the disabled list with a lat injury and struggled getting his slider to work in previous starts after his recovery.
One person who couldn’t be happier for Iwakuma is Seattle pitching coach Rick Waits, who joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s “Danny, Dave and Moore” after the milestone game.
“I just was amazed at how much his ball was moving today but also how he controlled all four corners of the plate,” Waits said. “He was just a master at it.”
While it was Iwakuma’s first no-hitter, Waits said it’s not the first time he has seen no-hitter stuff from the Japanese right-hander. In fact he saw that sort of dominance just two starts back when Iwakuma fell only an out short of a shutout in Minnesota.
As good as Kuma was in that game, nothing compares to his outing on Wednesday.
“A lot of times when he goes out I see flashes of great games,” Waits said. “He’s just terrific. Anytime you throw a no-hitter of course everything’s working, and that was true for him today.”
In a sport full of superstition, Waits made sure not to bother Iwakuma during the game other than checking with translator Antony Suzuki a few times about the status of Iwakuma’s groin, which he said was a little tight entering the contest. Waits also found himself glued to his seat on the bench so as not to upset the baseball gods.
“I actually said nothing the whole game. I just tried to sit in the same spot … After he got rolling around the third or fourth inning, I did what I should do — stay out of the way,” Waits said.
That extended even to the final outs.
“In the ninth inning everybody was up on the railing and cheering, and I had to sit down in the same spot for the last three outs,” he said. “But I would have sat anywhere to see that.”