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.

Mets are interested in Rick Porcello

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Jon Heyman reports that the Mets are interested in free agent pitcher Rick Porcello and have been speaking to his agent.

Porcello is coming off a pretty dreadful 2019 season in which he went 14-12 with a 5.52 ERA in 32 starts. That ERA was the worst in the majors among qualified starters. He’s also pretty homer happy. But (a) he’s durable; and (b) a change of scenery and a move to a more pitcher-friendly division and park might do him some good, so it’s not like he’s a bad guy for the Mets to be looking at. He’s only going to be 31 next season and he’s just a year removed from a decent season.

There are far worse bounceback candidates.