James Paxton has pitched well over the last few weeks and has looked especially untouchable in his last two outings.
He was far from that in his only previous game in his home country, but gets a chance to redeem himself Saturday when he takes the mound for the Seattle Mariners against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Paxton (2-2, 3.59 ERA) has logged four straight quality starts and owns the majors’ longest active scoreless streak at 20 innings, which is also a personal high. He’s won back-to-back games and completed a career-best eight innings in a 5-0 victory against Boston on Sunday.
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"He’s pretty good, eh?" manager Lloyd McClendon told MLB’s official website. "I don’t think there’s really been a big change. It’s just been a matter of finding his groove."
A native of Ladner, British Columbia, Paxton gave up a career-high nine runs along with seven hits and six walks over 2 2-3 innings in a 14-4 road loss at Toronto on Sept. 22. That outing is part of a six-start road winless stretch for Paxton, who is 0-3 with a 5.30 ERA in that span.
The Mariners (19-22) scored four runs for the fourth straight game in a 4-3 victory over the Blue Jays on Friday, its third win in 11 road contests.
Seattle’s victory came despite its top three hitters going 0 for 11, but Nelson Cruz hit his major league-leading 17th homer and Nos. 7 and 8 batters Logan Morrison and Mike Zunino combined for three RBIs.
Toronto (19-25) lost for the 10th time in 13 games and has scored three runs or fewer in four of six. Josh Donaldson’s first absence of the season likely didn’t help. Manager John Gibbons told MLB’s official website the club’s second-leading RBI man is nursing a calf injury, though it’s not serious.
"He needs it," Gibbons said of the day off. "He’s banged up, he’s been playing on a bad calf and his body is beat up."
Donaldson is expected to rejoin the lineup Saturday but has hit .157 in his career versus Seattle. Devon Travis, third on the team with 26 RBIs, went on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation after Thursday’s 8-4 win over the Los Angeles Angels.
Edwin Encarnacion continues to produce, though, homering for the second straight day and seventh time in 14 games. He also has nine home runs in his last 21 meetings with Seattle.
Mark Buehrle (5-3, 5.36) recorded his first complete game since 2013 his last time out, throwing a six-hitter in a 4-2 loss at Houston on Sunday.
"It was a good day. I felt strong throughout," he said. "I felt like everything was working for the most part. I made some mistakes, and they made me pay for them. I got away with a few of them."
The left-hander gave up two solo homers, already the third time he’s given up multiple home runs this year. He allowed multiple homers four times in 40 starts over the last two seasons.
Buehrle has won all three starts at Rogers center this year with a 3.71 ERA. He’s 6-1 with 3.49 mark over his last 11 matchups with Seattle, completing seven-plus innings eight times.