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Paxton gains confidence with 10-K outing

Mariners lefty will continue to fill in for Hernandez
MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

SEATTLE -- With no firm timetable on Felix Hernandez's return from his strained right calf, James Paxton will continue getting the ball in his place, manager Scott Servais said Tuesday. And that decision clearly comes a lot easier in the wake of Monday's strong start by the 27-year-old southpaw.

"I was really encouraged by what I saw last night and he is as well," Servais said prior to Tuesday's rematch with the Indians. "His slider was really good. It changes his style of pitching a little bit, versus the straight over the top pounding the fastball to the glove side. Now he's using both sides of the plate with the fastball and has the slider on top of that. It was a really, really good outing for him."

Full Game Coverage

SEATTLE -- With no firm timetable on Felix Hernandez's return from his strained right calf, James Paxton will continue getting the ball in his place, manager Scott Servais said Tuesday. And that decision clearly comes a lot easier in the wake of Monday's strong start by the 27-year-old southpaw.

"I was really encouraged by what I saw last night and he is as well," Servais said prior to Tuesday's rematch with the Indians. "His slider was really good. It changes his style of pitching a little bit, versus the straight over the top pounding the fastball to the glove side. Now he's using both sides of the plate with the fastball and has the slider on top of that. It was a really, really good outing for him."

Full Game Coverage

After a rocky debut in Hernandez's place last week in San Diego, Paxton allowed just five hits and one earned run with one walk and 10 strikeouts in six innings in a 3-1 loss to the Indians on Monday and was consistently firing fastballs in the 98- to 100-mph range.

"What's unique with him is the [velocity] doesn't back off," Servais said. "You look up there in the sixth inning and we're 95-100 pitches into it and he's still throwing 98 mph. There's not many guys that can do that and carry the velo. He's a strong guy, a big guy. I just liked what I saw with the secondary pitch. Now he becomes a real pitcher and not just a thrower."

Servais also liked the intensity Paxton unveiled after the skipper challenged him to grab hold of this opportunity after the poor Padres showing. Paxton was pounding his glove and exuding confidence this time around, with good reason.

"Scott talked to me after I pitched last time and just told me to let it come out," Paxton said. "I've always kind of been an internalizer. He wanted me to show a little emotion, so I was trying to let that out a little more."

"Something we talked about is that teammates can feed off your positive energy," Servais said, "and they can also feed off your negative energy, like, 'Oh here we go again.' From the outset of last night's game, he looked different. His results were very good. So hopefully he'll stick with it."

Paxton is in line to make his next start Saturday against the Rangers, and the Mariners are looking for him to build on his last outing.

"It's tough to come out right from jump street and pitch in the Major Leagues and be in sync," catcher Chris Iannetta said. "He made adjustments this time out and you saw what he's capable of doing."

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Seattle Mariners