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CWS@SEA: Iwakuma tosses seven innings of one-run ball

SEATTLE -- With Felix Hernandez putting together a Cy Young-caliber season and Chris Young making a strong case for the American League's Comeback Player of the Year award, one might argue that Hisashi Iwakuma is the overlooked member of the Mariners' starting rotation.

Manager Lloyd McClendon doesn't agree.

"[Iwakuma] is good. All of baseball knows he's pretty good, too. When you've got a guy like Felix, he's probably the bookend to a [Clayton] Kershaw," McClendon said. "Those guys are just a level above."

Iwakuma (10-6, 2.86 ERA) is set to make his 20th start of the season Wednesday when the surging Mariners look for a three-game sweep over the Blue Jays at Safeco Field.

Seattle is 7-1 on its nine-game homestand and 11-5 in its last 16 games. With a 6-3 win over Toronto on Tuesday night, the Mariners moved into a virtual tie with the Detroit Tigers for the second AL Wild Card spot.

Iwakuma is coming off a start when his command of his off-speed pitches was subpar but his results were good. The 33-year-old right-hander allowed just one run over seven innings in a 4-1 win over the White Sox. Yet, afterward he didn't seem satisfied, specifically with his splitter, curve ball and slider.

Iwakuma didn't walk anybody, but, in his mind, the pitches that have quietly helped him to a career 33-17 record with a 2.85 ERA in 68 starts (82 appearances) weren't as effective.

"To be honest, I was fighting tooth and nail," Iwakuma said through translator Antony Suzuki.

Toronto will counter with knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (9-11, 3.90 ERA). Dickey, 39, has had an up-and-down 2014 season, though he's pitched at least six innings in his last 11 starts while posting a 3.75 ERA. He was effective his last time out, allowing two runs over six innings against the Tigers. He struck out six and walked four.

With the Blue Jays leading 4-2 entering the ninth, Dickey appeared in line for his 10th win of the season. Instead, closer Casey Janssen gave up a pair of back-to-back home runs to Nick Castellanos and Eugenio Suarez to send Toronto to a 5-4 loss.

"They're all tough. Any time you lose a game it's tough. You feel for Casey, I've been out there and done the same thing in an inning, and it hurts," Dickey said. "We're teammates and we're going to pick each other up. I can certainly empathize with his pain. It's no time to pout, that's for sure."

Mariners: Back in second Wild Card spot
The Mariners playoff drought extends back more than a decade.

Seattle hasn't made the postseason since 2001-- when it tied an MLB record with 116 wins -- and hasn't had a winning record since 2009, when it finished 85-77.

After Wednesday's finale against Toronto, the Mariners have an off-day Thursday before they embark on a nine-game road trip through Detroit, Philadelphia and Boston.

Center fielder Austin Jackson, acquired from the Tigers in the minutes leading up to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, said the 2014 Mariners feel like a postseason team. With Detroit, Jackson went to the playoffs the last three years, including a World Series appearance in 2012.

"You see the drive, every day you show up to the ballpark, guys are working," he said. "They're excited about the opportunity to possibly be playing in the postseason. I think when you have some guys that have been there, and have a taste of it, they definitely want to get back."

Blue Jays: Lind back in the lineup
The Blue Jays activated first baseman Adam Lind from the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday after reliever Brad Mills was designated for assignment Monday night following Seattle's 11-1 win.

Lind, who was out the last five weeks with a fractured right foot, returned to Toronto's lineup Tuesday, going 0-for-3 with a strikeout before Nolan Reimold pinch-hit for him in the 8th inning.

Lind's return was delayed when he felt back discomfort last week during a rehab stint with the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays. He didn't play the following day, but said Tuesday he's ready to go.

"They've been doing fine without me, so hopefully I can add a little bit here and there and hopefully contribute to some more wins," he said.

Worth noting
• Dating back to 2007, the Mariners have won 17 of 25 games against the Blue Jays at Safeco Field.

• Edwin Encarnacion hit a grand slam in his first rehab start with Triple-A Buffalo on Tuesday. Encarnacion has been on the 15-day disabled list since July 7 with a strained right quad.

He's expected to rejoin Toronto when it opens a three-game set on Friday in Chicago. Comments