Hisashi Iwakuma returns from Japan, fans 13 Blue Jays

2 Comments

A whirlwind week for Seattle’s Hisashi Iwakuma culminated in far and away the best start of his major league career Monday against the Blue Jays.

Iwakuma, just back from Japan after returning home to visit his ailing father, limited the Jays to one run in eight innings and struck out 13 in his second big-league victory.

A mop-up man after a poor spring, he didn’t even make his first appearance until the Mariners’ 15th game of the year. As of May 30, he had pitched all of five times. However, he started getting more work last month and he moved into the rotation earlier in July. He’s now put together three very good starts in a row, allowing four runs over 19 innings against the Rays, Yankees and Blue Jays.

The 31-year-old Iwakuma was a very successful pitcher in Japan, so the first few months in the U.S. had to be quite a shock for him. He may not have many more starts like this, but he looks like a perfectly legitimate third or fourth starter for Seattle. With the way he’s coming along, he might make Jason Vargas more expendable.

Video: Tony Kemp makes a sensational catch to halt two-out rally by Red Sox

Jason Miller/Getty Images
3 Comments

After scoring two quick runs against Astros starter Dallas Keuchel in Game 3 of the ALCS on Tuesday evening, the Red Sox offense threatened again in the third. J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts drew back-to-back two-out walks, bringing up Steve Pearce, who hits lefties quite well. With a 2-2 count, Pearce lifted an 81 MPH slider towards the Crawford Boxes in right field, a mere 315 feet away from home plate. Left fielder Tony Kemp, listed at 5’6″, ranged back, timed his jump and crashed into the scoreboard while holding onto the ball. The catch prevented two runs from scoring which would have extended the Astros’ deficit. Instead, the score remained 2-1.

Kemp’s catch will certainly be in the running for the best play of the postseason.