James Paxton’s Inefficiency, Defensive Inadeqaucies Lead to Mariners’ Series-Ending Loss


The Mariners came into a stretch of games featuring Philadelphia, Boston, and Texas optimistic about their chances of staying in good form and continuing a trend that started in early August with a quick two-game sweep of the enigmatic Braves. The fact that the first two series were on the road was an added bonus given their home-road splits.

If all went according to plan, a 6-3 or 7-2 record over those nine games could cement their position in the AL Wild Card race.

Unfortunately, Seattle has already used up two of those losses, as they dropped the rubber match at Citizens Bank Park Wednesday, 4-3, behind a disappointing outing from James Paxton, who took his first Major League loss, and shoddy defense.

It was clear from the first inning that the afternoon would not be kind to the M’s young starter who is still trying to completely regain his big league footing. A prolonged at-bat against Ryan Howard, eventually resulting in a walk, turned an otherwise mundane first into a 26-pitch exercise in endurance, as Paxton stranded two runners by striking out Marlon Byrd.

Kendrys Morales opened the scoring in the top of the second with a bomb to straightaway center, and Paxton did settle down a little, aided by Logan Morrison robbing a Cole Hamels’ liner in right field to end the bottom of the inning.

Aug 12, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners first baseman Logan Morrison (20) doubles against the Toronto Blue Jays during the fifth inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

After the M’s stranded a couple runners in the top of the third, Jimmy Rollins doubled to left-center and was brought home by a Byrd single for the only earned run Paxton allowed in the game. The Phillies then proceeded to strand two of their own when Darin Ruf flew out to left with men on the corners.

But it wasn’t until the fourth when both offenses truly came to life, each aided by the opposition’s miscues.

After Kyle Seager reached via a leadoff walk, Andres Blanco turned a great diving stop on Chris Denorfia‘s hard grounder to the hot corner into a nightmare throwing the ball into right field and allowing Seager to reach third. Morrison then continued his stellar game by bringing home Seager with an RBI double.

Seattle should have gotten a whole lot more with runners on second and third and none out, but Denorfia was hung out to dry between third and home on what may have been a failed suicide squeeze by Jesus Sucre. A ball in the dirt was taken well by Carlos Ruiz, who easily initiated the rundown.

After Sucre singled (Morrison to third) and Paxton bunted him over, the M’s had second and third again when another low pitch could not be handled behind the plate by Ruiz, and Seattle took a 3-1 lead.

But as nice as the two-spot was, the Mariners would look back and regret not putting up more, as the bottom of the inning turned into an unmitigated disaster.

The Phillies’ better fourth inning proved to be the difference…

After a Wil Nieves leadoff single, Paxton took an Andres Blanco ground ball to the shoe, and when he came up with the baseball, fired it right up the right field line.

The defensive woes continued when Sucre let a shin-level fastball right through his five-hole, scoring Nieves and putting the tying run at third with still no outs.

Ben Revere‘s productive out tied the game a batter later, but unlike the Mariners, Philadelphia continued to make the M’s pay.

Rollins reached on an infield single, advanced to second on a ball in the dirt, and was brought home on a Chase Utley flare between Morrison and Robinson Cano, giving the Phillies a 4-3 lead that they held for the rest of the day.

Hamels only lasted one more inning, dancing out of a second and third, one out jam courtesy of Kyle Seager’s liner finding only Howard’s glove. Tom Wilhelmsen did much of the same in relief, stranding the bases loaded.

In the final four innings, the Mariners only had three baserunners and two at-bats with the tying run in scoring position, as Jake Diekman, Ken Giles and Jonathan Papelbon brought a quiet end to what started as a wild game.

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Along with Wilhelmsen, Joe Beimel, Brandon Maurer and Danny Farquhar each had scoreless relief appearances for the M’s, who with the loss fell to 68-58, a full game behind Detroit for the second Wild Card Spot.

After today’s day off, the team heads to Fenway for three with Felix Hernandez slated to face Joe Kelly tomorrow at 4:10 pm.

Full Box Score (courtesy of MLB.com):

Jackson, A, CF5010012.265
Taylor, C, SS4010010.338
c-Miller, B, PH1000010.199
Cano, 2B5020012.329
Morales, K, 1B4121113.229
Seager, 3B3100113.275
Denorfia, LF4010022.242
Morrison, RF4121010.239
Sucre, C4020021.182
1-Zunino, PR-C0000000.210
Paxton, P1000010.000
Wilhelmsen, P0000000.000
a-Chavez, En, PH1010000.274
Beimel, P0000000.000
Maurer, P0000000.000
b-Ackley, PH1000011.252
Farquhar, P0000000.000

a-Doubled for Wilhelmsen in the 6th. b-Struck out for Maurer in the 8th. c-Struck out for Taylor, C in the 9th.
1-Ran for Sucre in the 8th.

Revere, CF5011003.311
Rollins, SS5220021.238
Utley, 2B3011101.284
Howard, 1B3000123.220
Byrd, RF4011012.270
Ruf, LF4000022.234
Nieves, C4130000.289
Blanco, 3B3110112.314
Hamels, P2000012.167
a-Sizemore, G, PH1010000.247
Diekman, P0000000.000
Giles, P0000000.000
b-Asche, PH1000010.250
Papelbon, P0000000.000

a-Singled for Hamels in the 5th. b-Struck out for Giles in the 8th.

2B: Morrison (11, Hamels), Chavez, En (8, Diekman), Sucre (1, Giles).
HR: Morales, K (4, 2nd inning off Hamels, 0 on, 0 out).
TB: Cano 2; Chavez, En 2; Sucre 3; Jackson, A; Taylor, C; Morales, K 5; Denorfia; Morrison 3.
RBI: Morales, K (30), Morrison (26).
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Morales, K; Jackson, A 2; Denorfia 2; Ackley.
SAC: Paxton.
Team RISP: 2-for-9.
Team LOB: 10.
CS: Denorfia (3, home by Hamels/Nieves).
PO: Denorfia (3rd base by Nieves).FIELDING
E: Paxton (3, throw).
PB: Sucre (1).

2B: Rollins (20, Paxton), Nieves (8, Wilhelmsen).
TB: Revere; Nieves 4; Rollins 3; Blanco; Utley; Byrd; Sizemore, G.
RBI: Byrd (72), Revere (14), Utley (67).
2-out RBI: Byrd; Utley.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Byrd; Ruf; Revere 2.
Team RISP: 3-for-11.
Team LOB: 10.
SB: Revere (37, 2nd base off Paxton/Sucre).FIELDING
E: Blanco (1, throw).
Pickoffs: Nieves (Denorfia at 3rd base).

Paxton(L, 3-1)4.07412502.20
Hamels(W, 7-6)5.09331412.53
Diekman(H, 14)2.01001404.03
Giles(H, 7)1.01000301.23
Papelbon(S, 30)1.01000201.55

WP: Paxton, Hamels 2.
IBB: Blanco (by Wilhelmsen).
Pitches-strikes: Paxton 88-59, Wilhelmsen 19-12, Beimel 8-6, Maurer 12-9, Farquhar 13-10, Hamels 99-63, Diekman 28-18, Giles 17-11, Papelbon 13-9.
Groundouts-flyouts: Paxton 2-2, Wilhelmsen 2-0, Beimel 0-1, Maurer 1-0, Farquhar 0-0, Hamels 6-2, Diekman 1-0, Giles 0-0, Papelbon 0-1.
Batters faced: Paxton 22, Wilhelmsen 6, Beimel 3, Maurer 4, Farquhar 3, Hamels 24, Diekman 8, Giles 4, Papelbon 4.
Umpires: HP: Ron Kulpa. 1B: Mark Ripperger. 2B: Lance Barksdale. 3B: Kerwin Danley.
Weather: 81 degrees, cloudy.
Wind: 3 mph, Out to CF.
T: 3:00.
Att: 25,157.
Venue: Citizens Bank Park.
August 20, 2014
Compiled by MLB Advanced Media