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Felix, Iwakuma: The Mariners’ dynamic All-Star duo

By Gary Hill

Hisashi Iwakuma and Felix Hernandez were named to the American League All-Star team over the weekend. It was the appropriate cherry hoisted onto what has been a delicious first-half pitching sundae.

Iwakuma boasts the best ERA (2.60) and best WHIP (0.88) in the AL. He has only walked a remarkable 18 hitters while fanning 103. He has hurled the sixth-most innings in the league and opponents are only batting .204 against him, which is fourth best.

Mariners ace Felix Hernandez has been named to the All-Star team four times, one shy of Randy Johnson’s club record. (AP)

Felix features the league’s second-best ERA (2.69) behind his teammate. He has thrown the third-most innings (123 2/3) and fanned the fourth-most hitters (130).

Felix has been named to the All-Star team for an impressive fourth time, which is only one fewer than the record for a Mariners pitcher:

Randy Johnson, 5
Felix Hernandez, 4
Kazuhiro Sasaki, 2
Freddy Garcia, 2
Hisashi Iwakuma, 1
Brandon League, 1
Michael Pineda, 1
Cliff Lee, 1
J.J. Putz, 1
Shigetoshi Hasegawa, 1
Jamie Moyer, 1
Jeff Nelson, 1
Aaron Sele, 1
Mark Langston, 1
Matt Young, 1
Floyd Bannister, 1
Rick Honeycutt, 1

There have been only four occasions that an M’s pitcher has been named to the All-Star team and not pitched in the game. Rick Honeycutt in 1980, Randy Johnson in 1990 and Felix Hernandez the last two years never appeared on the mound in the game. Felix has actually only pitched in the game one time, throwing a scoreless inning in 2009.

Seattle pitchers have thrown 24 2/3 innings and yielded 10 earned runs in All-Star games. Four of those runs were scored on Shigetoshi Hasegawa in 2003. He only coughed up four earned runs in the entire first half of the season in route to his All-Star selection. He tossed 46 2/3 innings and carried a feathery 0.77 ERA into the All-Star break. He proceeded to match his entire first half of the season by yielding four runs in the mid-summer classic.

Freddy Garcia captured the only All-Star decision for a Seattle pitcher when he won the 2001 game in Seattle. Kazuhiro Sasaki locked down the only All-Star save for the franchise in the same game. There have been five occasions when M’s pitchers have gone two innings in the game (Garcia in 2002, Johnson in 1997, 1995 and 1993 and Mark Langston in 1987).

Johnson earned his way to the All-Star game one time by 1993 during his age-28 season. Meanwhile, Felix will already be going to his fourth game in his age-28 campaign. Given his massive success at such a young age, here is the list of most appearances for pitchers in the All-Star game:

Warren Spahn, 14
Mariano Rivera, 13
Tom Seaver, 12
Roger Clemens, 11
Steve Carlton, 10
Tom Glavine, 10
Randy Johnson, 10
Juan Marichal, 9
Rich Gossage, 9
Carl Hubbell, 9
Whitey Ford, 8
Don Drysdale, 8
Bob Gibson, 8
Bob Feller, 8
Roy Halladay, 8
Catfish Hunter, 8
Greg Maddux, 8
Pedro Martinez, 8
Nolan Ryan, 8
John Smoltz, 8

Iwakuma broke into the Nippon Professional Baseball League at the age of 20 in 2001 and put together an impressive decade. He has pitched for Japan in the Olympics and World Baseball Classic. He has captured the coveted Eiji Sawamura, Most Valuable Player and Best Nine Awards. He has won 20 games in a season, which is incredibly difficult to do in Japan. He now adds a Major League Baseball All-Star selection to his resume.

In the meantime, the dynamic duo will throw in the first two games when the Red Sox invade Safeco Field starting tonight. The Mariners return home after an impressive 4-2 road trip in Arlington and Cincinnati as they try and ride their current surge into the All-Star break.