TORONTO -- The Blue Jays were no-hit for the fifth time in franchise history on Tuesday night, and this time, it was one of their former first-round Draft picks who did it.Canadian lefty James Paxton walked three and struck out seven to pick up the sixth no-hitter in Mariners history
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays were no-hit for the fifth time in franchise history on Tuesday night, and this time, it was one of their former first-round Draft picks who did it.
Canadian lefty James Paxton walked three and struck out seven to pick up the sixth no-hitter in Mariners history while sending the Blue Jays to a 5-0 loss. Paxton was selected by Toronto in the 2009 MLB Draft, but he never signed and was taken by the Mariners the following year.
Paxton's no-hitter was the first against the Blue Jays since Justin Verlander did it on May 7, 2011. It also marked the third no-hitter in Rogers Centre history and the fifth one ever recorded in a Major League game that was played in Canada.
"Any time anybody is messing with history, you don't like it when it's against you, but it's one of those rare feats," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "But he's that good. He's just coming into his own. If he stays healthy, who knows. It's always tough being on the losing end, but when you've been in baseball your whole life, you appreciate a bit of history, too."
The only other Canadian pitcher to throw a no-hitter was Dick Fowler, who tossed one on Sept. 9, 1945, while pitching for the Philadelphia A's vs. the St. Louis Browns. Blue Jays fans, and Paxton's fellow citizens, began to warm to the idea of a no-hitter by the bottom of the eighth inning. In the ninth, the majority of fans in attendance were cheering as Anthony Alford, Teoscar Hernandez and Josh Donaldson were retired in order to complete the no-hitter.
Paxton showed his appreciation by waving to the crowd and pointing to a big Canadian maple leaf tattoo on his arm. The nine innings surpassed Paxton's previous career-high of 8 1/3, and it was the third no-hitter in the Major Leagues so far this season. After the game, Paxton admitted, "You almost can't make this stuff up," in reference to the location of his best moment to date as a pitcher.
Toronto has been no-hit five times in franchise history. In addition to Verlander, Oakland's Dave Stewart threw one on June 29, 1990, Texas' Nolan Ryan threw one on May 1, 1991 and Cleveland's Len Barker accomplished the feat on May 15, 1981. Right-hander Dave Stieb remains the only Blue Jays pitcher with a no-hitter to his name.
"You get a chance to witness history, people get behind it," Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Pillar said in response to the crowd. "You see people in our dugout, standing up, too, obviously we're rooting for our teammate, JD in that last at-bat to come up with a hit. I had never been a part of it, on either side. Unfortunately, we're on the wrong end of it, but it's part of Major League history. The only thing you can do with this is tip your cap."
It was a much different story for Blue Jays righty Marcus Stroman, who was hit around early and often by the Mariners on Tuesday night as he surrendered five runs. Last year's ace has lost each of his past five decisions, and his 7.71 ERA is the highest in the Majors among qualified starters.
The latest disappointment followed a game in which he limited the Twins to a pair of runs over seven strong innings. He reintroduced the cutter into his repertoire for that game, and the hope was that Stroman would be able to carry over some momentum into his next outing, but the Mariners had other ideas for the series opener as Paxton stole the show.
"Electric, he's throwing 100 [mph] in the ninth, man, from the left side," Stroman said of Paxton. "His stuff was pretty special all day. All year his stuff has been pretty electric. He's a special talent."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Play: The Blue Jays didn't do much of anything off Paxton through the first six innings, but in the final three frames, there were several impressive plays by Seattle that helped keep the no-no intact. The play that had fans at Rogers Centre gasping occurred in the bottom of the seventh, when Kyle Seager made a diving play at third and then made a strong throw across the diamond to take extra bases away from Pillar.
"That was my third time seeing him," Pillar said of Paxton. "I had a pretty good idea of what he was trying to do ... You never want to get no-hit. Personally, we're always trying to hit the ball hard to get hits. Just because the game might be out of reach, doesn't mean we stop trying.
"I was going up there, trying to compete, get a good pitch to hit and he made a great play. There's always one or two of those plays in a no-hitter, and unfortunately, I was on the hitter's end of one. It's just how it goes sometimes."
Early signs of trouble: Stroman got through the first two innings unscathed, but he wasn't as lucky the rest of the way. He allowed two runs in the third, and then the big blow came in the fourth on a two-run shot by catcher Mike Zunino. According to Statcast™, Zunino's fifth home run of the season was projected to travel 349 feet, and it left his bat at 104.3 mph.
"It's frustrating," Stroman admitted. "I'm off, something's off, I'm just trying to find it. It's definitely frustrated, just struggling right now. I think I'll get through it, but I'm just off. Something's not in sync. I'm just, mechanically, my body's not in sync right now."
Paxton's final two pitches were also his hardest of the night. The 29-year-old tossed a 99.5-mph fastball for a called strike to Donaldson and then got Toronto's third baseman to hit a weak ground ball on a 99-mph offering.
HE SAID IT
"To have it happen in Canada, what are the odds? It's pretty amazing. Just very special. And against the Blue Jays? You couldn't write this stuff. It's pretty amazing to have it happen against the Blue Jays at home in Canada. I had some family here tonight and some friends. It was special to share that with them. And awesome that it was on TV in Ladner, B.C." -- Paxton
Left-hander Jaime Garcia will take the mound when the Blue Jays continue their three-game series against the Mariners on Wednesday night, with first pitch scheduled for 7:07 p.m. ET. Garcia is winless in his past two decisions, and he was rocked for six earned runs over 3 1/3 innings in his last start vs. Cleveland. Wade LeBlanc will start for Seattle.
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.