Felix Hernandez

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Hisashi Iwakuma to miss 4-6 weeks with shoulder inflammation

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Mariners’ right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma is scheduled to miss 4-6 weeks with right shoulder inflammation, per an official announcement by the team on Saturday. Iwakuma had been battling knee and shoulder pain over the last week and was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Wednesday (retroactive to May 7) after a preliminary evaluation revealed inflammation in his pitching shoulder. The diagnosis was confirmed on Friday by Dr. Ed Khalfayan.

It’s been a rough start to the season for the 36-year-old righty, who posted a 4.35 ERA, 3.5 BB/9 and 4.6 SO/9 over his first 31 innings in Seattle. He’s coming off of some career-high numbers in 2016, during which he racked up a career-best 16 wins and a career-worst 4.12 ERA and 6.6 SO/9 rate through 199 innings. This is the first significant injury he’s seen since 2015, when he missed the first half of the season with a strained lat muscle.

The Mariners look significantly worse for wear after losing over half of their 2017 rotation to various injuries. James Paxton (left forearm strain) is scheduled to return to the rotation sometime in the next week or two, though it stands to reason that the club would take things slowly with one of their best pitchers. Felix Hernandez (right shoulder inflammation) and Drew Smyly (left flexor strain) are working with longer timetables for recovery, and neither are likely to see the mound before June. In the meantime, the Mariners will roll with right-hander Ryan Weber, who was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma to make his season debut against the Blue Jays on Saturday.

Mariners place James Paxton on the disabled list with forearm strain

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The Mariners placed left-hander James Paxton on the 10-day disabled list on Friday, citing a left forearm strain that will likely keep their No. 1 starter sidelined through his next two starts. According to general manager Jerry Dipoto, the injury has been classified as a Grade 1 strain, so it shouldn’t be cause for much concern going forward. Still, it’s just another setback for a rotation that has already been forced to operate without Felix Hernandez and Drew Smyly due to various injuries.

Paxton, 28, was off to a hot start through the first six outings of the season. He went 3-0 with a 1.43 ERA, 2.6 BB/9 and 10.8 SO/9 in 37 2/3 innings and had yet to allow a single home run. In his last start, a 4-6 clunker against the Angels on Tuesday, he tossed 5 1/3 innings with two runs, a season-high five walks and six strikeouts.

With Paxton’s slot rapidly approaching on Sunday afternoon, Dipoto said the plan is to start right-hander Christian Bergman or southpaw Dillon Overton in his place (via the Tacoma News Tribune’s Bob Dutton). Should Bergman gets the call, the Mariners will need to place him on the roster prior to the game.

And That Happened: Friday’s Scores and Highlights

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Friday’s weekend series kicked off with Gift Ngoepe’s first major league start, Mike Trout‘s important anniversary and an informal home run derby between the Yankees and Orioles. Here are the rest of Friday’s scores and highlights:

Yankees 14, Orioles 11 (10 innings): Manny Machado may have hit 2017’s longest home run on Friday night, but he was forced to share the spotlight as the Orioles and Yankees combined for eight home runs in their 10-inning slug-fest. In the end, the only home run that mattered was the last one of the night: a walk-off, three-run 411-footer by Matt Holliday to clinch the Yankees’ first win of the series.

Mets 7, Nationals 5: In a battle of elite arms, the Mets took the lead with Jacob deGrom‘s 12-strikeout performance. Max Scherzer struck out seven over six innings, but a couple of timely knocks from Travis d'Arnaud in the second and fourth innings unraveled the Mets’ flimsy one-run lead and eventually, their hold on the game altogether.

Rays 7, Blue Jays 4: Home runs are swell, as are late-game comebacks and solid pitching performances, but it’s not every day that you get a full highlight reel’s worth of plays from Steven Souza Jr.:

Red Sox 5, Cubs 4: Visiting Cubs fans monopolized a good section of Fenway Park on Friday, and the Cubs played nearly as well as if they were playing against the ivy backdrop of Wrigley Field. Although the Sox jumped out to an early five-run lead in the first inning, the Cubs worked a four-run comeback and put the game-tying run on second base when Ben Zobrist lined a double in the ninth inning. That’s as far as they got, however, leaving Zobrist stranded to drop their second consecutive loss of the week.

White Sox 7, Tigers 3: The White Sox extended their win streak to five consecutive games on Friday, clinching first place in the AL Central after a shutdown performance from the bullpen and a late-game comeback spearheaded by Geovany Soto and Tim Anderson. Tigers’ third baseman Nicholas Castellanos helped, too, committing three errors in the sixth and eighth innings to facilitate the White Sox’ rally and cement their 12th win of the year.

Pirates 12, Marlins 2: If you haven’t gotten up to speed on Gift Ngoepe’s intriguing path to the major leagues, do yourself a favor and peruse this excellent 2009 profile by Sports Illustrated’s Gary Smith. Ngoepe was promoted to the bigs last Wednesday and has already garnered some attention for hitting a single in his first career at-bat. He was no less impressive on Friday, going 3-for-3 with two base hits, two walks and an opposite-field triple that just cleared Giancarlo Stanton‘s head at the wall.

Mariners 3, Indians 1: The Mariners may be short one Felix Hernandez, Mitch Haniger and Nelson Cruz, but they looked more than capable of taking on the Indians during Friday’s series opener. Robinson Cano and Ben Gamel combined for a three-run lead on two home runs and Ariel Miranda allowed just one run in 5 1/3 innings, effectively stifling several rally attempts by the Indians and clinching his second win of the year.

Angels 6, Rangers 3: It’s been five years since Mike Trout received his permanent call-up from the minors, and he celebrated in true Mike Trout fashion, engineering an impressive catch on the warning track and collecting a two-run homer against Rangers’ right-hander Nick Martinez:

The Rangers, meanwhile, would have been better off spending their Friday like Yu Darvish:

Braves 10, Brewers 8: Don’t look now, but the Braves are no longer in last place. They relinquished their spot at the bottom of the NL East on Friday, scooting half a game above the Mets after they mounted a six-run rally in the last few innings of a 10-8 win over the Brewers. That’s thanks in large part to their bullpen, which stifled Milwaukee’s comeback attempts with four scoreless frames, giving Ender Inciarte and Adonis Garcia just enough time to clear the bases in the seventh inning and take the lead on Kurt Suzuki’s RBI single in the eighth.

Astros 9, Athletics 4: Consistency isn’t exactly what Charlie Morton is known for, and Friday’s outing was no exception. The veteran right-hander got off to a rocky start in the first inning, putting runners on first and second and watching Khris Davis unleash a three-run bomb for an early lead. While Morton eventually settled down to strike out a career-high 12 batters, Davis still had the righty’s number, and took him deep a second time for the Astros’ fourth and final run of the night.

Cardinals 7, Reds 5: Reason #7 why you should never sleep on the job:

Twins 6, Royals 4: It looked like the Royals finally caught a break on Friday. They built a modest three-run lead early in the game and were able to keep their heads above water even after Miguel Sano brought the Twins within a run of tying the game on a two-run homer in the fourth inning. Everything looked hunky-dory for Kansas City until the eighth, when Joakim Soria loaded the bases for Sano, home plate umpire CB Bucknor took a 92 m.p.h. fastball to the face mask, and the Twins jumped out to a two-run lead to secure the Royals’ eighth consecutive loss.

Rockies 3, Diamondbacks 1: Just as we all predicted, neither the Giants nor the Dodgers are anywhere near the top of the NL West this year. The top two spots appear reserved for the Rockies and Diamondbacks, who have traded first place several times during the month of April. Colorado reclaimed the division on Friday, spearing their 15th win on a one-run outing by rookie southpaw Kyle Freeland and a handful of hits from Carlos Gonzalez, Trevor Story and Charlie Blackmon.

Dodgers 5, Phillies 3: Kenta Maeda is finally looking like the starter the Dodgers need him to be, and not a moment too soon. The right-hander struck out eight over seven innings, holding the Phillies to five hits and two runs in his second winning effort this season. It’ll still take some time to get that ERA below 6.00, however, and the Dodgers have to dig themselves out of a three-game deficit if they want to reclaim first place in the NL West this spring.

Giants 4, Padres 3: So much for rookie jitters. Christian Arroyo has made a comfortable home in the major leagues, slugging .250/.250/.800 through his first four career games and topping it off with his second home run against the Padres on Friday night.