SEATTLE—Buck Showalter kept waiting for Hisashi Iwakuma to miss a spot.
Just one miss would potentially be enough for Baltimore to get back in the game and possibly finish off a long road trip out west on a winning note.
Iwakuma never offered up that mistake. He wasn’t perfect. But the Seattle right-hander was never touched.
“He didn’t miss. You could count two or three pitches he got in an area he didn’t want to,” Showalter said. “Some of the anxiety builds on you. It’s in a pitcher’s favor when you try and do too much.”
Iwakuma became the second Japanese-born pitcher in major league history to throw a no-hitter, leading the Mariners to a 3-0 victory over the Orioles on Wednesday.
The right-hander struck out seven and walked three in the fourth no-hitter this season and first by an American League pitcher in nearly three years. Hideo Nomo threw two no-no’s after starting his career in his home country of Japan, including one against Baltimore in 2001 while pitching for Boston.
Teammate Felix Hernandez’s perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Aug. 15, 2012, was the last time an AL pitcher did not allow a hit in a game. There have been 11 individual no-hitters and one combined no-hitter by NL pitchers since then.
With Mariners fans on their feet and cheering, Iwakuma got Gerardo Parra to line out softly to center fielder Austin Jackson for the first no-hitter against Baltimore since Boston’s Clay Buchholz did it in 2007. Baltimore has been no-hit seven times.
“It’s not just a normal loss. We’re going down in the history books on the bad side of a no-hitter,” Baltimore’s Adam Jones said. “But tip your cap. Iwakuma threw his game.”
Third baseman Kyle Seager made a nifty, twisting over-the-shoulder catch in foul territory to start the ninth, but the 34-year-old Iwakuma needed little help in completing his first career complete game and the Mariners’ fifth no-hitter.
After his 116th pitch settled in Jackson’s glove, Iwakuma was mobbed by his teammates. Hernandez was wearing a fuzzy bear hat that was handed out as a promotion earlier in the season to honor Iwakuma.
“I can’t find the words to express my feelings,” Iwakuma said through an interpreter after the fourth no-hitter in the major leagues this season. “I’m truly happy.”
Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels — prior to his trade to Texas — Washington’s Max Scherzer and San Francisco’s Chris Heston all tossed no-hitters this season.
Iwakuma was not overpowering because that’s not his style. He used a biting splitter and precise location to keep the Orioles guessing. Baltimore’s best chance at a hit came on Parra’s groundball with one out in the fourth that nearly dribbled into right field but was gloved by Robinson Cano, who threw across his body to get the out at first.
Iwakuma walked Chris Davis with two outs, but he struck out Jimmy Paredes to end the threat.
Iwakuma also walked Jonathan Schoop on a check-swing, full-count pitch to open the eighth inning. But after striking out Ryan Flaherty looking, Iwakuma got Caleb Joseph to ground into a double play.
David Lough fouled out to open the ninth with Seager making his remarkable catch. Manny Machado grounded out to Seager for the second out and Parra flew out to shallow center field to end it. Iwakuma initially thought Parra’s fly ball was going to drop until he saw Jackson running with his arm outstretched to squeeze the final out.
“It’s pretty special. I’ve seen a lot. I thought in the fifth inning his stuff was really sharp and his split was coming out crisp. I thought you never know but he may have a shot here,” Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said.