SEATTLE -- The good news for the Mariners: James Paxton looked more like his dominant early-season self for much of Tuesday's seven-inning start against the Phillies.The bad news? That still wasn't enough to turn Paxton's recent rough run around, as he allowed three runs on four hits, but took the
SEATTLE -- The good news for the Mariners: James Paxton looked more like his dominant early-season self for much of Tuesday's seven-inning start against the Phillies.
The bad news? That still wasn't enough to turn Paxton's recent rough run around, as he allowed three runs on four hits, but took the loss in an 8-2 setback in the series opener at Safeco Field.
There were plenty of issues for the Mariners in this one. The bullpen surrendered five runs in the final two frames, the offense didn't have timely hits and a pair of errors also didn't help. But Paxton, who was 0-2 with a 9.69 ERA over his previous three starts, did his part, and that's a big positive going forward for a team that is piecing its rotation back together.
"It's getting better," Paxton said. "You saw those few starts there where it wasn't pretty. The last two, I've been making good steps forward, and hopefully we can continue to do that and continue to just get better and better."
Paxton zipped through the first four innings without allowing a hit, but the Phillies scored a pair of runs in the fifth when they loaded the bases with a double by Maikel Franco, an infield single by Cameron Perkins on a slow roller to third and a walk, followed by two sacrifice flies.
Franco delivered the go-ahead blow with a leadoff homer in the seventh on a changeup that Paxton left over the plate.
"We doubled up on it," Paxton said. "I thought he'd be cheating to the fastball after seeing me miss with a changeup. So I went back to it, I just left it up. It was a bad pitch, and he was having a good night, seeing the ball well. And he hit it hard."
Despite equaling his season high with nine strikeouts and consistently hitting 96-97 mph with his fastball, Paxton fell to 5-3 with a 3.44 ERA. He's 2-3 with a 5.93 ERA in six starts since returning from a four-week stint on the disabled list with a strained forearm.
"I thought Paxton threw the ball pretty well," manager Scott Servais said. "The one inning with the bases loaded and the couple sac flies, he kind of worked through that. And then the home run on a mistake on a ball that stayed in the middle of the plate to put him down.
"But overall, I thought it was a pretty good outing. He certainly had them going early on, and was piling up a few strikeouts. I thought his stuff was fine tonight, he just made a couple mistakes, especially the home run hurt late. But we've got to swing the bats better. As good as we were going here early in the homestand, it has cooled off in a hurry. We'll get back after it tomorrow."
That's the approach Paxton is taking as well. After his torrid start to the season when he was 5-0 with a 1.69 ERA through eight starts, he's cooled down. But if he throws as well as he did Tuesday, things may turn back around.
"We didn't get the results we wanted tonight, but my process was much better," Paxton said. "I made a lot better pitches. I'm just looking to continue that, and make it better."
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter [