SEATTLE (AP) - The rust is starting to come off for James Paxton, and the rest of the American League might want to take note.
Given an early lead after Robinson Cano hit his 12th home run in the first, Paxton pitched into the seventh inning in a bounce-back start to lead the Seattle Mariners to a 5-0 win over the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night.
Paxton threw a career-high 118 pitches and came an out away from tying his career high with seven innings pitched. The rookie lowered his ERA to 1.71, the best mark for a pitcher in his first 11 major league starts since 1990.
“He’s getting there, he’s not quite there as far as command is concerned, but I think stuff-wise, velocity-wise, yeah, he’s there,” said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon of Paxton, who missed almost four months due to a strained back muscle.
“I feel like I’m getting closer with each start,” Paxton said. “I feel like my stuff is starting to come around.”
Cano’s towering two-out home run in the first opened the scoring and was his 71st RBI of the year.
Seattle broke open a two-run game in the fifth, with the big blow coming on a double by Endy Chavez, which drove in a pair. Dustin Ackley scored Austin Jackson later in the inning with a single.
Texas starter Nick Martinez struggled through five innings, allowing five runs on six hits and four walks.
“He just didn’t command the baseball the way he had been earlier,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “He couldn’t keep his fastball away like he wanted to, he couldn’t get his breaking ball over with consistency, and he left his changeup up a lot tonight. He just didn’t have his command.”
The Rangers put runners on the corners with two outs in the third after a review reversed a call at first base and negated an inning-ending double play. Alex Rios grounded out, though, to end the threat.
Texas failed to advance a runner past first base until Mike Carp took second on indifference in the ninth.
Danny Farquhar did not allow a hit in the final 2 2-3 innings for the Mariners.
The Mariners avoided back-to-back losses for the first time since losing four straight from July 22-25.
“We’re focused, we’re playing good baseball,” Chavez said. “We just need to continue to do that.”