was a little worried writing about Hisashi Iwakuma today. I'd been planning to praise Jack Zduriencik for the signing and subsequent extension of Iwakuma for a few weeks, but hadn't found the right time to write about it. Penning it today, hours before his start in an important game, didn't seem like the best idea, but I rolled with it anyway.

No curse today.

What the Mariners got was one of the best starts of Iwakuma's career. 8 innings, 4 hits, 11 strikeouts, zero runs. It was a masterful performance, as Iwakuma controlled everything at will throughout the entire game, throwing 74 of his 96 pitches for strikes. The split was devastating, the fastballs cut into the edges of the plate, and rarely did Iwakuma allow anything but weak contact. It's an absolute joy to watch Iwakuma when he's truly cruising, attacking hitters relentlessly but with nothing great to hit -- virtually every strike is either down or on the black.

It's games like today that justify that silly "machine" moniker Iwakuma gets tagged with sometimes -- efficient, fast, quiet, and balls that are never easy to hit. This was Iwakuma at his finest, the quiet artist who baffles opponents and gets through innings faster than bathroom breaks. Iwakuma's ERA is now down to 2.57. Iwakuma's game score of 85 ranks as the highest of his career. Sheer, utter dominance. He'll disappear after today, rarely seen in dugout shots and never in interviews. We'll forget about Iwakuma until next the next time he starts, but it almost certainly won't be better than this. This is everything Iwakuma can be and more.

Today's game started out with a dull thud for the Phillies, as A.J. Burnett promptly threw out eight straight balls, walking both Austin Jackson and Dustin Ackley to lead things off. Even though Burnett couldn't throw a strike to save his life, Jackson stole second base, and when Ackley reached, the two promptly executed a double steal, with Jackson sneaking past the tag at third. It only took nine pitches for Burnett to walk two batters and relinquish three stolen bases. Both Jackson and Ackley scored, but the Mariners got a little too cute when Logan Morrison was thrown out on a strange steal attempt to end the inning after he singled home Dustin Ackley. Four attempts in an inning was probably pushing it.