Sure, the Mariners smacked the Red Sox 11-4, but at the risk of jinxing their suddenly impressive success, I’m going to discuss something else significant that happened within the organization yesterday. I’m referring to the pitching performance turned in by James Paxton against the Tucson Padres.
Paxton was brilliant in the Arizona heat last night, spinning a complete game five-hit shutout. That’s a great performance, but it’s even more impressive when you consider the dynamics of innings limits in the minor leagues. Complete games aren’t just things that happen on a regular basis. In fact, his performance was the first nine inning shutout thrown by a Rainiers pitcher since 2010. That’s three seasons ago!
The best sign for Paxton was that he kept his pitch count low enough to make it that long. He has had control problems and he strikes out a lot of batters. That adds up to a lot of pitches for him most nights. As a matter of fact, he had thrown 27 pitches through two innings Monday night with 14 of them being balls. That nearly prompted a text from a certain nameless Sodo Mojo writer to my phone about his control issues (he didn’t send the text. He was glad he didn’t. It was Anthony Davis.).
All in all, Paxton threw just 104 pitchers, or for you playing at home, a bit under 12 per inning. That’s really good, especially for a guy who has those command issues.
“I focused on keeping my fastball down in the zone,” Paxton told the Tacoma News Tribune. “I also got some great plays in the field — (Scott) Savastano made a catch at first base and doubled a runner off, and (Carlos) Peguero ran down a ball in right field.”
Wow! Carlos Peguero did something good! All kidding aside, it’s great to see Paxton succeed and he might make it up to the big leagues sooner rather than later.