James Paxton threw the best game of his young career against the Fresno Grizzlies on Saturday at Cheney Stadium, recording a season-high 11 strikeouts in the first five innings of the six he pitched.
All while Fresno starter Mitch Lively had a no-hitter into the seventh.
The Rainiers wasted Paxton’s scintillating performance, and Brad Miller’s two singles were their only hits in the 2-1 loss.
Paxton left after six innings, having given up no runs, three hits and one walk to go with his 11 strikeouts. But Logan Bawcom surrendered two runs in the eighth to give up Tacoma’s 1-0 lead.
“We just didn’t hit tonight,” Rainiers manager John Stearns said.
Paxton was the bright side in the game for the Rainiers.
“From the first inning I could tell I was feeling good,” Paxton said. “I felt like I had my stuff.”
Paxton’s remedy for everything was a strikeout. Runners on first and second with two out? Use a 96-mph fastball to fan Gary Brown. Runner in scoring position in the fourth? Strike out Brett Pill and use another 96-mph heater to strike out Roger Kieschnick.
Paxton (4-5, 4.75 ERA) struck out the side in both the first and fifth innings. He recorded one strikeout every inning except his final one when he set Fresno down 1-2-3.
The Rainiers didn’t record a hit until Brad Miller singled in the top of the seventh inning on a ground ball to right field, pushing his hit streak to 18 games. The hit came after Lively retired 17 consecutive batters.
Miller later advanced to third, where a Carlos Peguero sacrifice fly would have scored the game’s first run. Instead, Peguero popped it to shallow left field, but Kensuke Tanaka didn’t secure the easy fly ball in his glove and it bounced out to allow Miller to score.
Fresno responded the next inning with two runs on two hits. Bawcom gave up a Gary Brown double, allowing Ydwin Villegas to score from first, and Johnny Monell followed with a pinch-hit single to score Brown.
The Rainiers loaded the bases in the eighth on Miller’s infield single, but Alex Liddi struck out and Peguero popped up to short.
The Rainiers added 20-year-old right-hander Taijuan Walker, the No. 2 ranked prospect in the organization, when he arrived in Tacoma on Saturday. He is scheduled to make his first start on Tuesday. … The Seattle Mariners designated outfielder Eric Thames for assignment. … Danny Hultzen threw five innings in Arizona. He could be back in the Rainiers’ rotation this week.
The series continues at 1:35 p.m. Sunday with the Rainiers expect to send Erasmo Ramirez (2-2, 1.69 ERA) against Fresno’s (Chris Heston, 6-5, 5.42). The game will broadcast on 850-AM.TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677 firstname.lastname@example.org @Cotterill44