San Diego scores six runs in bottom of the first inning after the Mariners had taken a 6-3 lead.
SAN DIEGO — One inning.
One interminable, demoralizing, victory-ruining, pitch-filled, run-fest, hit-spree of an inning — James Paxton’s first in a Mariners uniform this season — doomed his season debut and put the Mariners in a hole they couldn’t climb out of in a 14-6 drubbing by the Padres on Wednesday night at Petco Park. It was a reversal of the game the two teams played Tuesday in Seattle when the Mariners rolled to a 16-4 win.
It was a rare road loss for the Mariners, who dropped to 30-22 on the season.
“Well, that was a reversal of fortune,” M’s manager Scott Servais said. “Obviously we didn’t play a good ballgame. It starts with starting pitching. You have to get into the game and get going. It wasn’t Pax’s night.”
Most Read Sports Stories
- Former Seahawks safety Earl Thomas finally explains that middle finger
- No hard feelings? Mariners face challenge in how to part with Ichiro, Felix Hernandez | Larry Stone
- First Glance: UW's first opponent, Utah State, is the hottest team in the NCAA tournament
- The Mariners know 2019 will be rough. So do we. But a tantalizing future isn't far off | Larry Stone
- Seahawks issues and answers: What kind of contracts did Mychal Kendricks and J.R. Sweezy get?
His line: 32/3 innings pitched, eight runs (three earned) on 10 hits with a walk and seven strikeouts.
But will be there a second start in five days at Safeco Field against Cleveland?
“We’ll see where it goes from here,” Servais said. “The game just got over. Those decisions are organizational decisions. I would certainly like to give him another opportunity. It’s not the best of Pax, and we know that.”
The old baseball cliché of “momentum is the next day’s starting pitcher” seems applicable. Paxton, called up to replace the injured Felix Hernandez in the starting rotation — not the easiest of tasks — almost didn’t make it out that first inning.
His teammates gave him a 3-0 first-inning lead on Robinson Cano’s 16th homer of the season — a three-run laser into the right-field stands off Padres starter Christian Friedrich.
A three-run cushion should have softened the landing for Paxton in the bottom of the first, but when he finally got out No. 3 — striking out Friedrich, the ninth hitter of the inning, the lead was gone and the Mariners trailed 6-3.
How did it all go so wrong, particularly when he was throwing a fastball that was touching 98 mph?
Well, there was some poor location on pitches that resulted in big home runs, some bad luck and one very regrettable throwing error.
“That first inning just got away from me,” Paxton said. “It’s disappointing. I was just too amped up, too fired up for it. It was too bad.”
He retired the first hitter he faced — Jon Jay — on three pitches, getting a ground ball to shortstop.
But the next hitter, Wil Myers, took advantage of a 0-2 fastball that was left up in the zone, driving it over the wall in right field for a homer.
The bad luck came when Matt Kemp blooped a single in between Nelson Cruz and Cano in shallow right field for a single. Yangervis Solarte followed with a single up the middle. Paxton could have been out of the inning when Melvin Upton Jr. bounced a chopper back to the mound, or at least have gotten a second out, making things much easier.
Instead, his throw to second was nowhere near the bag, allowing a run to score and Kemp to move to third.
“The wheels fell off there,” Servais said. “I’m not sure he gets a double play there. But there’s at least two outs and it’s a different inning from there.”
Instead of Derek Norris’ ensuing fly ball possibly ending the inning, it was a sacrifice fly to give the Padres a 4-3 lead.
The lead soon grew to 6-3. Alexei Ramirez singled and Adam Rosales jumped on a 1-1, 97 mph fastball left over the middle of the plate for a two-run homer.
Of those 32 pitches, 27 were fastballs.
“In this league, it’s not just how hard you throw,” Servais said. “You’ve got to go back and forth to get them off your fastball. As hard as he was throwing tonight, you need another pitch. He really struggled to get that going, especially in the first inning.”
Paxton couldn’t slow himself or the game down to find his command with his offspeed pitches as things spiraled out of control.
“I was just going too fast and wasn’t able to get that slow stuff in there,” he said. “They were just eliminating everything and going after the fastball. And when I’m doing that, it doesn’t how hard it is, they can catch up to it.”