Joe Blanton may be tied for the major league lead in losses, but he’s pitched better over his last five outings than Iwakuma has in the same span.
Both starters allowed six runs in shaky efforts their last time out and will meet Sunday when the Mariners try for their first three-game home sweep of the Angels in eight seasons.
Iwakuma (7-4, 2.97 ERA) has been close to or at the top of the AL in ERA through most of the season while Blanton (2-11, 5.40) owns the majors’ third-worst ERA. Yet this may not be the pitching mismatch it appears to be based on that alone.
Iwakuma is 0-3 with a 6.83 ERA over his last five outings. The six runs allowed by the All-Star on Tuesday came in the shortest start of his career, a three-inning stint in which he escaped without a decision in an 11-8 loss to Boston.
“I think my pitches are catching too much of the plate the last couple of starts,” Iwakuma said through a translator. “I need to work on that.”
Blanton lasted five-plus innings in Tuesday’s 7-2 defeat to the Chicago Cubs. His ERA in his last five starts is 4.26.
“It was just one of those games,” said Blanton, who had a 3.04 ERA over his previous four starts. “I tried to battle through, but I made too many mistakes over the plate.”
The right-hander allowed a season-worst four homers and has given up a major league high-tying 22.
He’ll be up against a Seattle team that has homered five times in this series to extend its club record for consecutive games with at least one to 21. That’s the longest by an AL team since Texas set the major league record with 27 straight in 2002.
“Everybody has been busting our chops on offense and rightfully so but I think you’ve got to give these kids kudos for that,” manager Eric Wedge said.
Blanton is 0-1 with a 3.55 ERA in two 2013 starts against the Mariners.
Seattle (42-52) last swept three at home from Los Angeles (44-48) from Sept. 12-14, 2005. The Mariners have to like their chances if Iwakuma can duplicate his past results against the Angels.
Iwakuma has beaten Los Angeles more than any team, going 4-0 with a 1.11 ERA in five starts. He has struck out 22 and never allowed an earned run in 19 1-3 innings at home versus the Angels.
Pujols is 3 for 23 at Safeco Field this year and Hamilton is 4 for 24. Neither has gone deep.
The Mariners, meanwhile, have outhomered the Angels 10-3 in winning five of six at home. Raul Ibanez is 5 for 8 with two homers in this series.
Justin Smoak had the game’s only homer Saturday and drove in four runs in a 6-0 victory.