Hisashi Iwakuma returns from Japan, fans 13 Blue Jays

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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.

John Axford has a small break in his fibula

Associated Press
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Dodgers reliever John Axford was deemed “unavailable” before last night’s game against the Giants. After the game it was revealed that he will miss up to three weeks due to a break in the tip of his fibula he suffered when he was hit by a comebacker on Sunday. It’s being characterized as a “crack.”

As if the Dodgers need more injuries and/or maladies, especially to their beleaguered bullpen.

Axford was acquired by L.A. at the trade deadline and, with Kenley Jansen out indefinitely, it was thought that he could get some opportunities to close. Now that’s out the window at least into September, it seems.