By Shannon Drayer
Hisashi Iwakuma and Felix Hernandez, Nos. 1 and 2 atop the American League ERA leaderboard, are heading to the All-Star Game. The two were player-elected, two of five starters put on the team by the players and are the only Mariners on this year’s squad.
Felix and Iwakuma will be joined by Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Yu Darvish, Clay Buchholz, Chris Sale, Justin Masterson, Jesse Crain, Bartolo Colon, Joe Nathan, Glen Perkins, Brett Cecil and Mariano Rivera on the pitching squad.
“You see my smile, very, very happy,” Iwakuma answered through interpreter Antony Suzuki when asked what his feelings were when he learned he had made the team. “I was very nervous at the same time.”
Both he and Felix were honored to be voted in by their peers.
“I mean, that’s awesome, it feels special,” Felix said. “It’s an honor to be on the All-Star team and always fun.”
Felix was thrilled that Iwakuma made his first team and called him very deserving. Iwakuma said it was only fitting that they be on that team together, too.
“There is a special feeling with that because we fought together, one and two and we have gone through a lot of challenges together already so it is very special for us to be All Stars together,” he said.
Iwakuma is not only representing the Mariners but his country as well. Darvish is also on the squad and Iwakuma said that he would look to him to show him the ropes as he was there last year.
“There is a lot that I need to learn through him, I don’t want to do anything strange with the All Star,” he said with a laugh. “So we will be talking a lot about what to do at the All-Star Game and Home Run Derby.”
Both pitchers are scheduled to pitch in the Anaheim series right before the break with Felix scheduled to go on Saturday, July 13 and Iwakuma on Sunday, July 14. Because he is pitching Sunday Iwakuma will not be able to pitch in the All-Star Game but Felix believes he will be able to and is hopeful he gets the call from manager Jim Leyland after not pitching in the game last year.