It’s certainly unfair for the Seattle Mariners to expect James Paxton to turn in Felix Hernandez-like starts as he fills in for their ace, but they’re not out of line asking for more than they got in his first outing.
The left-hander gets a chance to improve on that Monday night against the visiting Cleveland Indians, who are seeking a sixth straight victory.
Paxton (0-1, 7.36 ERA) was called up from Triple-A Tacoma on Wednesday and promptly served up six runs in the first inning of Seattle’s 14-6 loss in San Diego. The outing didn’t last much longer with Paxton giving up eight runs – three earned – and 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings.
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"I would certainly like to give him another opportunity," manager Scott Servais told MLB’s official website. "That was not the best of Pax. We know that. I told him, ‘We’re going to need you.’ It wasn’t the outing he wanted to have, but it doesn’t do any good to go drop your head and feel bad for yourself. You’ve got to work to get better and get back out there."
Paxton seems to think having the first-start jitters out of the way will help.
"I was just way too amped up," Paxton said. "I was going a little bit too fast and didn’t get my feet set to throw the ball. I just tried to do too much and was going too quickly, and that first inning got away from me."
He’s only faced Cleveland once and gave up four runs – three earned – and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings of a 5-3 home loss on May 28, 2015.
The Indians counter with Trevor Bauer, who is looking for his first win in five starts. Bauer (3-2, 4.27) has had no-decisions in the last two after consecutive losses and gave up three runs and four hits in seven innings of Wednesday’s 5-4 home win over Texas.
Over that 0-2 span, the right-hander has posted a 4.74 ERA, though that’s far better than his work against the Mariners. Bauer is 0-4 with a 6.94 mark in four starts and a relief appearance with Nelson Cruz going 5 for 7 with a home run and a double. Kyle Seager is 5 for 12 with a home run and a double.
If he’s able to end his struggles against the Mariners (31-25), the Indians (31-24) should have a good shot at establishing a new season-best winning streak. They just swept Kansas City in four games and gave up two total runs in the final three after Sunday’s 7-0 win.
The offense has also been impressive with 6.0 runs per game and a .294 average on the streak, which includes nine home runs in the last three games. Tyler Naquin homered in all three of those after going his first 28 of the season without leaving the yard. Mike Napoli had six home runs on the Indians’ 10-game homestand, which started with one win through five games.
"I mean, from the way we started our homestand to how we finished, it’s nice," Napoli said. "Especially doing it against Kansas City, they were ahead of us. Being able to have a good series. Just want to win the series, but we put ourselves in position to sweep. We had a good day today. It’s definitely a good feeling going on a long trip."
The Mariners were swept in three games in Texas over the weekend and managed just three hits in Sunday’s 3-2 loss.
Over a 1-4 span, they’ve posted an 8.56 ERA with a .376 opponent batting average.