(Reuters) - Seattle Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma threw a no-hitter against the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday in a 3-0 victory that made him the just the second Japanese pitcher to accomplish the feat.
Iwakuma, who improved to 4-2 in an injury-hit season, joined Hideo Nomo, who tossed two no-hitters, as he struck out seven and walked three at Seattle’s Safeco Field in his first career complete game.
The 34-year-old Japanese threw 116 pitches featuring a devastating splitter as he registered the first American League no-hitter since his team mate Felix Hernandez threw a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Aug. 15, 2012.
“I missed a lot of time in the first half, two and a half months that I couldn’t help my team at all,” Iwakuma said through an interpreter in a report on mlb.com.
“That’s all I have in mind, come back and give it all I’ve got. Every start I have, make up for the lost time that I’ve had the first half and do everything to contribute for the team.”
Iwakuma had been the subject of trade rumors as the deadline approached since pre-season favorite Seattle had fallen far off the pace in the American League West.
Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon rejected that possibility.
“I would’ve been going with him,” McClendon said about the crafty right-hander who has a 42-22 career record for Seattle.
Iwakuma said he did not remember carrying a no-hitter beyond the fifth inning of any game.
“To be honest with you, I never thought that I would accomplish this no-hitter. A lot of that goes to my team mates who played great defense today,” said Iwakuma, who retired 14 of the last 15 batters.
“My family that was there today, I felt strong with them being around. I felt the fans a lot toward the end, especially.”
Iwakuma said he thought the no-hitter might be in jeopardy when the ball came off Gerardo Parra’s bat with two outs in the ninth and started to break toward the left-center gap.
Instead, center-fielder Austin Jackson closed his glove on the final out and the gem was preserved.
“I can’t find the words to express my feelings,” said Iwakuma. “I‘m just truly happy.”
Iwakuma’s no-hitter was the fourth in Major League Baseball this season, following the Giants’ Chris Heston (June 9), the Nationals’ Max Scherzer (June 20) and the Phillies’ Cole Hamels (July 25).
Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Greg Stutchbury