It is tough to qualify a pitcher as scuffling when that hurler sports a 2.26 ERA and the American League's best WHIP.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge said Hisashi Iwakuma's last two starts -- in which he allowed eight runs on 14 hits in 12 innings -- represented a rough patch endured by every pitcher throughout the regular season.
"We're getting to that point in time in the year where guys have been pitching for a little while," Wedge said. "Sometimes you go through stretches, and he worked through it."
Iwakuma's rough outings are not even really "rough." He took a loss against Oakland last Friday after tossing seven innings of four-run ball. Overall, Iwakuma boasts a 7-3 record.
On Friday, he will face the Cubs for the first time in his career in the opener of a three-game series at Safeco Field.
"He's done a really nice job with his fastball," Wedge said. "His splitter got up a bit last time. [He needs to be] aggressive with his splitter and when he misses, miss down, not up. He's done well. I mean, even some of the ones that have been not his typical starts, he still kept us in the game."
Iwakuma will need to be on his game Friday against Travis Wood, who lost his last three starts, but has pitched well this season. The Cubs southpaw has fashioned a 2.85 ERA in 15 starts. Though winless in his last four outings, Wood submitted a quality start each time out. He has recorded a quality start in all but one of his outings this year.
"To lead all of baseball in quality starts is solidifying enough," manager Dale Sveum said. "He obviously had a couple tough-luck outings, but he's been as consistent as anybody in baseball."
Cubs: Cubs head west
The Cubs are 8-3 against the American League this year as they start a six-game swing through Seattle and Oakland.
"We've played pretty well against the American League and actually scored some runs against Texas and Anaheim," Sveum said. "Hopefully it continues and we keep getting people on base and keep getting big hits in those situations to bust games open a little more."
Alfonso Soriano will likely serve as the designated hitter on the team's road trip. In 23 career games as DH, Soriano boasts a .365/.397/.743 slash line with five doubles, seven home runs and 20 RBIs.
Mariners: Ackley adjusting to outfield
Dustin Ackley has enjoyed his transition to the outfield. He did not have a chance to field fly balls prior to Wednesday's matinee, however, so he was not in the starting lineup. He entered the game as a pinch-runner for designated hitter Kendrys Morales.
Ackley played 12 games in the outfield for Triple-A Tacoma over the last two weeks.
"It's gone better than expected," he said. "I first thought I might be a little lost when I got out there, but kind of right away, the first game, everything felt pretty good. The biggest transition was just getting my body used to the extra running and the longer throws. But other than that, it's been going great."
• The teams last met in 2010, when the Mariners claimed two of three from the Cubs at Safeco Field. In 2007, Chicago took two of three at Wrigley Field.