Iwakuma in command of pitches in latest start

Iwakuma in command of pitches in latest start

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Hisashi Iwakuma was in a good spot on Saturday afternoon, even if his pitching line didn't reflect it.

The Mariners' right-hander gave up three runs on six hits in 3 2/3 innings in a 6-5 win over the Giants, including a prodigious homer by Jarrett Parker, but Iwakuma provided some perspective about his Spring Training preparation. 

Iwakuma's previous Cactus League outing, for example, lasted only 2 2/3 frames against the Brewers, when he gave up seven runs on six hits, including two homers, with two walks and no strikeouts.

"Well, compared to my last start [it was]," Iwakuma said through an interpreter when asked if he thought it was a productive afternoon on Saturday.

"Today I think I had better balance with my upper body, lower body. I was more up to down instead of side to side. That said, I was able to command pretty much all of my pitches, and I was able to throw strike one, for the most part, the majority of the time. That helped."

Prior to the game, Seattle manager Scott Servais said that Iwakuma is so stringent in his daily work and schedule that he's one of the players the skipper never questions when it comes to being ready for Opening Day.

Iwakuma indicated after Saturday's 65-pitch, 51-strike tune-up that everything is in its right place for mid-to-late March.

"There were some pitches I left up in the zone that they got to, but other than that, compared to where I was last start, I was able to make some adjustments," Iwakuma said. "I think overall I felt pretty good. I still felt strong coming out of the game. I think I'm in a good spot right now."

Diaz in fine form 

Servais watched Friday night's World Baseball Classic game between Puerto Rico and the United States with keen interest, particularly riveted by the appearance of his own closer, Edwin Diaz, who finished off the win that put Puerto Rico into the tournament's upcoming semifinals in Los Angeles.

It wasn't easy for Diaz, who entered the game with his team up, 6-3, and surrendered two runs before nailing down the victory by striking out Josh Harrison. He walked Nolan Arenado to start the inning, gave up a sharp single to Eric Hosmer, struck out Buster Posey and Paul Goldschmidt in succession, then gave up a two-run triple to Brandon Crawford. Replays showed Crawford might have been out at third base on a play that would have ended the game, but Diaz collected himself and retired Harrison for the save.

Diaz closes the door for P.R.

"What a great experience for him, and I think it's definitely going to benefit us once we get to October," Servais said. "That was really cool to see, and in Eddie Diaz style, he kind of figures out a way to get through it.

"That's a real tough lineup, and he strikes out Posey and Goldschmidt and Harrison at the end, and that's what it's like. It's great to see. Obviously he looks good."

Worth noting

• With the elimination of Venezuela from the Classic, it seems likely that ace Felix Hernandez will be back with the Mariners soon.

"We've got him scheduled to pitch Thursday [at the Giants]," Servais said, "so hopefully he's here."

• Servais said James Paxton would start on Sunday in a Minor League game instead of showing division-rival Texas his close-to-regular-season repertoire in the Cactus League game at Surprise Stadium.

"He's in a good spot to get his work in, keep him rolling along pitch count-wise and go from there," said Servais, who added he might employ the same strategy with Drew Smyly and others. "We're going to see the Rangers a lot."

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.