Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma could use a little more support when he faces the White Sox on Friday than he received in his last outing, against the Orioles.
Iwakuma, 33, gave up a leadoff home run to Nick Markakis on Sunday at Camden Yards, and that wound up being the day's only tally in a tough 1-0 loss. But after missing the first month of the season with a strained finger tendon, Iwakuma has done his part to help keep Seattle in playoff contention, going 9-6 with a 2.94 ERA.
He has yet to face the White Sox this season but recorded two no-decisions against them in 2013, when he allowed just three earned runs in 16 innings (1.69 ERA).
Iwakuma has been one of the American League's top starters since moving into the rotation midway through 2012, posting a 31-16 record and 2.74 ERA in 67 starts and earning an All-Star berth in 2013. And surely he deserved a better result than the one in Baltimore, where he allowed just five hits and the one run over 7 2/3 innings.
"He threw a great ballgame," said Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon. "He made one mistake, and it cost him."
Iwakuma has a tough assignment as he seeks to get back in the win column, though, against Chicago right-hander Jose Quintana. Quintana shut down the Mariners on July 5 in his only outing against them this season, striking out 10 over 7 2/3 scoreless frames while allowing just four hits and one walk.
Though Quintana, 25, is overshadowed in Chicago's rotation by Chris Sale, he has been quietly productive for the White Sox since debuting in 2012. He is on pace for his second straight 200-inning season and has improved on his 2013 ERA (3.51) by nearly half a run, at 3.04.
One reason for Quintana's relative lack of exposure could be related to his bad luck in obtaining wins -- he leads the Majors with 37 no-decisions since the start of the 2012 season.
His most recent start, on Sunday against Minnesota, was an especially brutal no-decision -- he exited after giving up just one unearned run in five innings, only to see the bullpen collapse, turning a two-run lead into a 16-3 defeat.
"A really, really bad game for us," Quintana said.
"It seemed OK until the sixth," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "After that it just got loose, and you couldn't stop it."
A similar scenario unfolded in Thursday night's series opener, as Seattle hammered Chicago, 13-3. It's safe to say that the White Sox will have a better chance to win the longer that Quintana stays on the mound.
White Sox: Putnam set to return from disabled list
After throwing just one scoreless rehab inning for Triple-A Charlotte on Tuesday, right-hander Zach Putnam is expected to come off the DL on Friday. He has been out since July 24 with inflammation in his right shoulder but was with the team on Thursday in Seattle.
"Yes, champing at the bit," said Putnam of his return. "I felt real good. The velocity was up a little bit, but most important, the shoulder felt good."
Putnam has been a pleasant surprise for the bullpen, with a 2.35 ERA and three saves over 33 games. He will be a welcome stabilizing force for a relief crew that has been the subject of recent derision.
Mariners: Chavez, Denorfia splitting time
Endy Chavez got the start in right field for Thursday opener, but the right-handed-hitting Chris Denorfia will likely get the nod on Friday against Quintana.
Denorfia was acquired at the non-waiver Trade Deadline to give McClendon another right-handed bat. He went 1-for-10 in his first three starts and will continue to get time, but Chavez has played well when given the chance and will continue to get his at-bats, too.
"Obviously, you don't want anybody sitting too long, because that's not going to help you," McClendon said. "So you try to look at the numbers and put guys in the best situation where you think they're going to have a chance to be successful. Neither one of those guys are in a strict platoon. You've seen Endy start against left-handers this year. We'll just keep doing that and see what happens."
• Mariners utility man Willie Bloomquist will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Friday morning in Seattle after spending the last two weeks on the 15-day DL, as doctors attempt to discover the extent of the damage done when he stretched to reach the bag trying to beat out an infield single on July 23.
• Adam Eaton, who collided with an outfield post on Wednesday, missed Thursday's series opener with a bruised lower back and is day to day. Robin Ventura said that Eaton will be re-evaluated on Friday.
Will Laws is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.