OAKLAND, Calif. — While there has been plenty of talk, debate and analysis over the possible fatigue of the starting pitchers of the Seattle Mariners and the efforts of manager Lloyd McClendon to deal with it, James Paxton is only getting stronger.
The rookie left-hander delivered a second straight solid start, pitching into the eighth inning and leading the Mariners to a much-needed 6-5 win over the Oakland A’s on Tuesday night at O.Co Coliseum.
The final score was a little closer by score because reliever Yoervis Medina allowed three runs to score — two of which were charged to Paxton — and closer Fernando Rodney allowed two more in an eventful ninth.
But with the Mariners (74-63) scoring more runs than they had in their previous seven games, they were able to withstand the late outburst. It wasn’t easy though with Oakland getting the potential tying run to second base before Rodney got Josh Reddick to ground out.
Even with Medina allowing two of Paxton’s runners to score, his line was still pretty solid: 72/3 innings, two earned runs on four hits with three walks and two strikeouts to improve to 5-1.
Paxton got help from his defense. The Mariners turned four double plays and Jesus Sucre made another base runner disappear by throwing out Craig Gentry on a potential steal.
It also helped that he pitched with a lead after the third inning.
A day after making the A’s weakest starter, Jason Hammel, look like a Cy Young candidate, they jumped all over one of Oakland’s best starters — Sonny Gray.
Seattle scored six runs on seven hits and two walks off Gray, knocking him out after five innings.
It’s more surprising considering Gray entered with a 4-0 record and 1.10 earned-run average in five career starts against Seattle.
Seattle got to Gray with Endy Chavez and Brad Miller working back-to-back walks to start the third inning. McClendon had Jesus Sucre bunt the runners into scoring position. Austin Jackson made the strategy pay off, lining a single up the middle to score both runners for a 2-0 lead.
The Mariners added one an inning later. Kendrys Morales singled with one out and Logan Morrison followed with a double to the left-center wall to put runners on second and third for Chavez. The crafty veteran fought off a 2-2 curveball, hitting about a 22-hop ground ball into center past the drawn-in infield. Both Morales and Morrison scored, and Chavez, who read the ball off the bat, hustled around first and slid headfirst into an uncovered second base bag for a double.
Up 4-0, Kyle Seager made his return to the clean-up spot felt in the fifth inning. After Robinson Cano came up with a two-out single, Seager belted his 21st homer of the season deep into the right field stands to make it 6-0.