SEATTLE -- Off the bat, Hisashi Iwakuma believed the slicing flyball was going to find its way to the outfield grass and end his dream of joining an elite pitching fraternity one out shy.
Then he saw Seattle teammate Austin Jackson sprinting with his glove extended in the air, ready to squeeze the final out and put Iwakuma's name next to Hideo Nomo as the only Japanese-born pitchers to throw a no-hitter.
"I can't find the words to express my feelings," Iwakuma said through an interpreter after the fourth no-hitter in the major leagues this season. "I'm truly happy."
Iwakuma became the first American League pitcher in nearly three years to throw a no-hitter, silencing the Baltimore Orioles in the Mariners' 3-0 victory yesterday.
Talented but often injured since arriving from Japan in 2012, the 34-year-old native of Tokyo didn't overpower the Orioles.
That's not his style.
Instead, Iwakuma smartly used a biting splitter and precise control to throw the fourth individual no-hitter in franchise history and become the oldest pitcher since Randy Johnson in 2004 to throw a no-no.
Iwakuma's gem ended a streak of 11 straight individual no-hitters thrown by National League pitchers, including three this season: Philadelphia's Cole Hamels -- prior to his trade to Texas -- Washington's Max Scherzer and San Francisco's Chris Heston.
The last AL pitcher to keep zeros across the board was teammate Felix Hernandez, who tossed a perfect game at Safeco Field on Aug. 15, 2012. And in an odd numerical coincidence, Hernandez's perfect game against Tampa Bay came on 8/15/12, while Iwakuma's no-hitter was on 8/12/15.
Not surprisingly, Hernandez was one of the first to greet Iwakuma as he was mobbed on the pitcher's mound after the final out, wearing a fuzzy bear hat that was handed out to fans earlier in the season in a promotion to honor Iwakuma.
"I'm just glad it's over. I've had to pee since the fifth inning," Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon joked. "It's pretty special. I've seen a lot. I thought in the fifth inning his stuff was really sharp and his split was coming out crisp. I thought you never know but he may have a shot here."
Baltimore was no-hit for the seventh time in franchise history and the first time since Boston's Clay Buchholz no-hit the Orioles in 2007.