Hisashi Iwakuma prevails in duel with Yu Darvish

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Pitching on his 32nd birthday, Hisashi Iwakuma outdueled Yu Darvish in a battle of Japanese starters Friday as the Mariners beat the Rangers 3-1.

Darvish opened the bottom of the first by hitting Jason Bay with one out and then giving up three singles, putting the Rangers in the early 3-0 hole. He was stellar afterwards, allowing no more hits, walking just one and striking out eight before leaving after six.

Iwakuma, though, was steadier. He spread out his three hits, so Ian Kinsler’s fourth-inning homer did only a little damage. He ended up striking out six and walking one in 6 2/3 innings.

The Mariners won with a makeshift outfield after losing Michael Saunders and Michael Morse to injuries the last two days. Raul Ibanez started in left, Endy Chavez played center and Bay started in right. Franklin Gutierrez, who was getting the night off, came in as a defensive replacement late.

Somewhat disappointing to the Mariners was that Justin Smoak and Dustin Ackley continued to struggle. Those two have combined for 77 at-bats this year and still don’t have an extra-base hit between them. Jesus Montero, another player the Mariners were hoping would step up, sat in favor of Kelly Shoppach in this one.

Report: Shohei Ohtani has sprained UCL in pitching elbow

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The Angels signed Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani for a $2.3 million signing bonus last weekend. They may have damaged goods on their hands. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that Ohtani underwent a physical that revealed a first-degree sprain of his ulnar collateral ligament. As a result, he got a platelet-rich plasma injection on October 20. This was made known to teams after Ohtani entered MLB’s posting system, so it wasn’t like the Angels went into this blind.

Ohtani’s report said, “Although partial damage of UCL in deep layer of his right UCL exists, he is able to continue full baseball participation with sufficient elbow care program.” It also said Ohtani “will most likely be available to start his throwing program approximately a month from the PRP.”

Passan notes that the report also mentioned that a “small free body” floats in Ohtani’s elbow near his UCL.

Ohtani isn’t without other injuries. He battled hamstring and ankle issues throughout 2017 and underwent right ankle surgery back in October. Thankfully for the Angels, this diagnosis is about as good as it could be considering the circumstances. However, if Ohtani does exacerbate his UCL issue, he may ultimately need Tommy John surgery at some point, which would take him out of action for at least a year.