Baseball fans rooting for uncompetitive teams take solace in the single moments rather than the complete journey of an unsuccessful campaign. For fans of the utterly disappointing Seattle Mariners, the greatest moment of solace in the 2015 season came from the right arm of pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma, who tossed the first American League no-hitter since 2012 on Wednesday.
Seattle was expected by many to take the next step in 2015 after finishing 88-74 and missing the second wild card spot by a single game in 2014, but it hasn’t gone that way. Struggling young pitching and the ineffectiveness of $240-million man Robinson Cano has contributed to the disappointment.
Fans who were struggling to find a bright spot on a seemingly lost Mariners’ season were given one on Wednesday. Iwakuma, who was making just his 11th start of the season, had all the right stuff against a solid Baltimore Orioles lineup.
He wasn’t perfect; he walked three hitters over the course of the game, but dispatched of 27 Orioles batters using just 116 pitches. Throwing in front of a home crowd, he seemingly got better as the game wore on.
Seattle is now 54-61 and well out of the playoff picture in the American League, but for one night, fans and players can forget about that. For now, they can celebrate MLB’s 289th no-hitter and the first in the American League in three seasons.
The last American League pitcher to throw a no-hitter is still on the Mariners’ staff. Felix Hernandez was the last man to accomplish that feat and he has a spot ahead of Iwakuma in the rotation. He’s still the ace of the staff, but all eyes were on Iwakuma on Wednesday as he dramatically closed out his no-hit bid.
There may be sweeping changes to the front office, coaching staff or roster this offseason amidst the disappointing season in Seattle, but that’s irrelevant right now. When fans of the Mariners think back on the 2015 season, they will think about what could have been. Thanks to Iwakuma, they will now also think about the excitement involved in their franchise’s fifth-ever no-hitter.