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Shota Imanaga continues strong start to major league career as Cubs top Mariners 4-1

By TIM BOOTH / Associated Press
Published: April 13, 2024, 10:07pm

SEATTLE (AP) — Shota Imanaga allowed one unearned run over 5 1/3 innings, Michael Busch homered in his third straight game and the Chicago Cubs beat the Seattle Mariners 4-1 on Saturday night.

Seiya Suzuki and Miguel Amaya also hit solo home runs for the Cubs. But the focus was on Imanaga (2-0) continuing the excellent start to his major league career, and some timely defense from third baseman Christopher Morel in the sixth to keep the Cubs in front.

Morel made consecutive outstanding plays with runners in scoring position, first diving to stop Mitch Garver’s hard grounder from getting down the left-field line and then leaping to snag Dylan Moore’s line drive.

“That changes the game right there. They may have the lead if that ball gets into the corner,” Cubs manager Craig Counsell said of the first play Morel made. “That was a huge play. He made some really nice plays tonight. Overall it was definitely a really big defensive game for Christopher.”

The two plays by Morel helped get Chicago out of trouble after Imanaga walked the first two batters in the inning. The left-hander has gone 15 1/3 innings without giving up an earned run. He allowed five hits, struck out four and walked two.

“I want to thank him,” Imanaga said through a translator. “With his defense, we were able to win. So I want to congratulate him and thank him on that.”

Mark Leiter Jr., Yency Almonte, Hector Neris and Adbert Alzolay permitted just two baserunners in 3 2/3 innings of relief. Alzolay earned his second save.

Busch ran his home run streak to three games by hitting a solo shot off reliever Tyson Miller in the seventh.

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“He’s swinging it really good right now and he’s driving it, most importantly,” Counsell said.

Suzuki’s homer came on the first pitch he saw from Seattle starter Emerson Hancock (1-2) with two outs in the third. Amaya homered off reliever Austin Voth in the eighth.

Hancock rebounded after getting knocked around in his last start. He allowed two runs on four hits and struck out four.

“Can’t fault the starting pitching. Normally you don’t lose games if you give up solo homers, but they got three of them tonight,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said.

Seattle got to Imanaga in the second inning after Mitch Haniger reached on an error by Busch at first base. Haniger scored on Luis Urías’ two-out double, but Imanaga stranded runners at second and third by striking out Seby Zavala.

Imanaga said Seattle’s game plan was to lay off his splitter down in the zone, which made spotting his fastball for a strike more important. Imanaga threw 61 fastballs among his 90 pitches.

“The first two games that I pitched, my off speeds felt good as well as my fastball,” Imanaga said. “Today, I didn’t really have the changeup and then as the game went on, my fastball command, the quality started to go down. So just kind of learning how do I need to make an adjustment, and moving from there.”

The stadium became smoky during the fifth inning after a car caught fire on a roadway outside the ballpark and the breeze pushed the smoke into the stadium.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cubs: RHP Jameson Taillon (back) threw 3 2/3 innings and 68 pitches on Friday in a rehab outing with Triple-A Iowa. His next start is expected to come with the Cubs, Counsell said. Taillon plans to meet the team in Arizona on Monday, although it’s unclear when he will slot back into the rotation.

Cubs 4, Mariners 1

Chicago AB R H BI BB SO Avg.
Happ lf 4 0 0 0 0 0 .259
Suzuki rf 4 1 1 1 0 3 .291
Bellinger cf 4 0 0 0 0 1 .167
Morel 3b 4 0 0 0 0 0 .255
Madrigal 3b 0 0 0 0 0 0 .278
Swanson ss 4 1 1 0 0 3 .245
Busch 1b 4 1 2 1 0 0 .311
Hoerner 2b 2 0 0 1 0 1 .171
Tauchman dh 3 0 1 0 0 0 .217
Amaya c 3 1 1 1 0 0 .250
Totals 32 4 6 4 0 8

Seattle AB R H BI BB SO Avg.
Crawford ss 5 0 1 0 0 1 .155
Rodríguez cf 4 0 0 0 0 1 .186
France 1b 4 0 0 0 0 2 .304
Haniger rf 3 1 1 0 1 0 .265
Polanco 2b 2 0 1 0 2 0 .189
Garver dh 4 0 1 0 0 1 .167
Moore lf-3b 4 0 0 0 0 0 .154
Urías 3b 2 0 1 1 0 0 .174
a-Canzone ph-lf 2 0 0 0 0 0 .219
Zavala c 2 0 0 0 0 2 .000
b-Raleigh ph-c 2 0 1 0 0 1 .190
Totals 34 1 6 1 3 8

Chicago 011 000 110_4 6 1
Seattle 010 000 000_1 6 1

a-flied out for Urías in the 6th. b-pinch hit for Zavala in the 7th.

E_Busch (1), Hancock (1). LOB_Chicago 2, Seattle 9. 2B_Urías (3). HR_Suzuki (3), off Hancock; Busch (4), off T.Miller; Amaya (1), off Voth. RBIs_Hoerner (1), Suzuki (13), Busch (9), Amaya (4), Urías (5). SF_Hoerner.

Runners left in scoring position_Chicago 0; Seattle 5 (Zavala 2, Urías, Canzone 2). RISP_Chicago 0 for 0; Seattle 1 for 9.

Runners moved up_Moore, Garver. GIDP_Amaya.

DP_Seattle 1 (Crawford, Polanco, France).

Chicago IP H R ER BB SO NP ERA
Imanaga, W, 2-0 5 1-3 5 1 0 2 4 90 0.00
Leiter, H, 1 1 1-3 0 0 0 0 1 17 0.00
Almonte, H, 2 1 0 0 0 0 2 14 6.00
Neris, H, 2 1-3 0 0 0 1 0 9 6.75
Alzolay, S, 2-4 1 1 0 0 0 1 17 2.70
Seattle IP H R ER BB SO NP ERA
Hancock, L, 1-2 6 4 2 2 0 4 74 7.98
T.Miller 1 1 1 1 0 2 22 3.00
Voth 2 1 1 1 0 2 21 4.70

Inherited runners-scored_Leiter 2-0.

Umpires_Home, Malachi Moore; First, Bill Miller; Second, Doug Eddings; Third, Chad Whitson.

T_2:24. A_38,104 (47,929).

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