Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman struck out three times against Seattle on Wednesday for the third time in his past eight games. (Reuters)
ATLANTA — After a five-run outburst early Tuesday night, the Braves’ bats have gone quiet again. They had little to offer Wednesday afternoon against Hisashi Iwakuma, Seattle’s latest Japanese sensation, and dropped their second in a row to the Mariners, 2-0.
The Braves managed six hits — all singles — in seven innings off the 2013 All-Star and were shut out for the seventh time this season.
Jason Heyward was the only Brave with multi-hits, going 2-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to nine games, while Freddie Freeman struck out three times for the third time in his past eight games. The Braves struck out 22 times in the two-game series.
“We’ve been shut out seven times and it’s a team that shouldn’t be shut out because we are so talented offensively,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “You just have to keep going. We haven’t been able to put (together) a decent run, a winning streak, because sometimes our offense stumbles on us. We still have a lot of games in front of us and we still have a chance to put a big number together.”
These two losses coupled with four losses to the Red Sox last week dropped the Braves to 0-6 in interleague play this season. They’ll get a week reprieve from the American League with an upcoming trip to Arizona and Colorado before the Angels come to town over Father’s Day weekend.
Mike Minor allowed only one run on five hits through seven innings, striking out a season-high 10 batters, and still had to take the loss. He left trailing 1-0 before the Mariners added a run off Luis Avilan in the eighth.
Minor is 2-4 despite a 3.07 ERA. The Braves have given him only 14 runs of support in his seven starts and five of those came in one game (May 13) in San Francisco.
“It stings offensively whenever that happens,” said third baseman Chris Johnson, who went 1-for-3 and hit into his National League-leading 11th double play. “We went up against a pretty tough guy today. He was definitely on his game.”
Iwakuma coaxed 11 groundball outs, struck out seven, walked none and allowed only two batters to reach second base.
“We had a tough time figuring out (Iwakuma),” Gonzalez said. “The guy was only throwing 87, 88 miles per hour. He sure looked like he was throwing a lot harder with it. I know he had movement and some of it was deception, but we didn’t really square up too many balls against him.”
The only run Minor allowed came in the fourth inning after Cole Gillespie singled on a two-out, 3-2 fastball to drive in Robinson Cano from third base. Minor had given up back-to-back singles before coming one strike away from escaping further damage.
Minor had worked out of a fifth inning jam the hard way after he walked Iwakuma to bring up the top of the Mariners order with nobody out. But Minor struck out both Willie Bloomquist and Cano around a failed bunt attempt by Endy Chavez.
Those were his two biggest strikeouts in the game. Minor reached double digits in strikeouts for the third time in his career and first since he struck out 10 last May 25, 2013, in New York against the Mets.
“I think early in the game, I was kind of effectively wild,” Minor said. “I was throwing a lot of two-seams that missed some bats and then I had that one inning when I couldn’t throw a pitch where I wanted to and they got that run.”
Stefen Romero, who hit the three-run game-tying home run in Tuesday night’s come-from-behind win for Seattle, tripled with one out in the seventh off Avilan. Pinch runner James Jones scored on a Kyle Seager single for the Mariners’ second run.