Hisashi Iwakuma is pitching again for the Seattle Mariners after nearly 11 weeks on the disabled list.
But back? No, he’s not back in form. Not after giving up four homers in five-plus innings.
And still …
It wasn’t until just-summoned rookie relievers Mayckol Guaipe and David Rollins imploded that the Mariners saw a possible victory slip away Monday night in what turned into a 12-5 drubbing by the Detroit Tigers at Safeco Field.
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Guaipe and Rollins gave up a combined seven runs and nine hits while recording just three outs as the Tigers erased a two-run deficit by scoring five times in the sixth inning and four more in the seventh.
“They were our best options,” acting manager Trent Jewett said, “based on the way our bullpen set up over the last few days. (Mark) Lowe had the high-leverage outing (Sunday at Oakland with) multiple innings.
“To try to get through that sixth was vital. I thought Guaipe with the sinker. … We saw him in the spring and one time before. I thought that was an opportunity to get a double-play ball.”
Guaipe (0-1) and Rollins each struggled to keep the ball down — and the result was brutal.
“You don’t have the weapons at your disposal because of the usage in the recent past,” said Jewett, who ran the club because Lloyd McClendon is on a three-day personal leave following the death of his sister.
Jewett added: “Is it optimal? No. Hopefully, it’s a learning experience for those young guys. It’s going to be a tough night for them. As it is for the rest of us.”
It was also a rarity for the American League’s lowest-scoring club. The Mariners had won 13 consecutive games when scoring at least five runs.
They seemed in good shape this time, too, after rallying from a three-run hole by scoring twice in the fourth inning before grabbing a 5-3 lead on Logan Morrison’s three-run bomb with two outs in the fifth.
The sixth and seventh innings, though, were a stables-mucking mess.
Iwakuma surrendered a leadoff homer to Yoenis Cespedes in the sixth that pulled Detroit to 5-4.
When Victor Martinez followed with a line-drive single, Jewett went to the bullpen for Guaipe, who was recalled Saturday from Triple-A Tacoma and who had one previous big-league appearance.
That didn’t work.
J.D. Martinez lined Guaipe’s first pitch into center for a single. Guaipe then loaded the bases by walking Alex Avila on four pitches. The Tigers regained the lead on Nick Castellanos’ two-run single into center.
“Everything was up in the zone,” Guaipe said. “I tried to keep the ball down, but I couldn’t. I feel bad because I couldn’t get the job done.”
In came Rollins, who had pitched a scoreless inning Saturday at Oakland in his big-league debut after returning from an 80-game suspension for failing a drug test.
Rollins yielded a bunt single to Anthony Gose that reloaded the bases. Rollins fielded the ball after third baseman Kyle Seager overran it and had a play at second on a late-breaking Castellanos.
“I felt if I had thrown it back there,” Rollins said, “I would have rushed it a little bit. I didn’t want to throw it away and make it worse than what it was. So I just held onto the ball.”
Things got worse.
Kevin Romine then poked an RBI single into right, and Detroit led 7-5 and still had the bases loaded with no outs. Jose Iglesias’ soft grounder to third produced a force at second but also another run.
A double play ended the inning, but the Tigers came back for four more runs in the seventh. All four were charged to Rollins, who failed to get an out in the inning.
“I just left some balls up,” he said. “The guys are the best hitters in the game. I made mistakes, and they capitalized on it. “
The Tigers finished the game with 19 hits, including four by Castellanos and Victor Martinez. Castellanos also had four RBIs and had one of Detroit’s four homers.
Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez hit back-to-back homers in the fourth, and Cespedes started the five-run sixth with a boomer. All four came against Iwakuma.
This was Iwakuma’s first start since April 20; he suffered a strained right latissimus dorsi muscle in his back the following day in a routine day-after throwing workout.
He was plagued by the long ball prior to his injury, giving up five in 16 1/3 innings. Now add four more in five-plus innings.
“Obviously, giving up four home runs is not good,” Iwakuma said. “But bottom line is I’m healthy. That’s a good sign. I was able to make good pitches in certain situations. So you look at the good side.
“There were good sides, and I’m happy about that.”