HOUSTON -- Scoring runs has been an issue for the Mariners in the early going this season, but pitching certainly hasn't been a problem and that trend continued with a superb start by James Paxton in Wednesday's 5-3 loss to the Astros in 13 innings.The 28-year-old southpaw threw six scoreless
HOUSTON -- Scoring runs has been an issue for the Mariners in the early going this season, but pitching certainly hasn't been a problem and that trend continued with a superb start by James Paxton in Wednesday's 5-3 loss to the Astros in 13 innings.
The 28-year-old southpaw threw six scoreless innings with just two hits and a walk before turning a 2-0 lead over to the bullpen. The Mariners ultimately fell to 0-3 in a season where they've managed just four runs and 16 hits in 31 innings, but this is a team that figures to have one of the better offenses in the league and Paxton figures that soon will turn.
"This one stung," Paxton said. "But it's a long season and this team is going to be OK. I know we're going to score a lot more runs than we have this first three games. Everybody is just kind of getting their feet under them. I thought we pitched great. Things are going to come together for this ballclub."
Paxton could be a rising star in the Mariners' rotation if he continues to harness the increased velocity that emerged when he lowered his arm slot midway through last season and discovered an extra 4-5 mph on his fastball.
The result was stunning as Seattle suddenly had a power lefty who was able to maintain upper 90s heat deep into games. According to Statcast™, Paxton's average four-seam fastball velocity last year was 96.8 mph and his 242 pitches of 98 mph or harder were nearly 10 times the number for any other southpaw starter (Carlos Rodon of the White Sox was second with 27).
That same velocity was present again on Wednesday as Paxton's 100th and final pitch of the night was a 96-mph fastball that induced a Carlos Beltran groundout as Paxton maintained his heat from start to finish.
"I felt really great," Paxton said. "When [manager Scott Servais] came up and told me I was done because I'd thrown 100 pitches, I said, 'Really?' I didn't know. But it felt great. I felt strong all the way through. I'm ready for the next one already."
Paxton worked through his biggest trouble in the third when he would have had two outs after striking out George Springer, but the pitch in the dirt got away from catcher Mike Zunino and Springer raced to first.
When Alex Bregman followed with a double to left, Paxton found himself in some hot water, but he maneuvered out of that by striking out Jose Altuve on a nasty curve and then got Carlos Correa to fly out loudly to center.
"Pax was awesome," Servais said. "He threw the ball outstanding and really controlled the game. He dominated when he was out there. That was a solid outing from him and he'll continue to build on that. We're going to need him as we go along."
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter [
@GregJohnsMLB]() and listen to his podcast.