Throughout July, James Paxton was on another planet pitching-wise.
He faced nearly 100 batters without issuing a walk, boasted an ERA of 1.80 through five starts and averaged seven innings an outing.
His first August start Thursday, however, was rocky and inconsistent for the Tacoma Rainiers. The streak of 26 consecutive innings without a walk ended with the first batter he faced during a 4-2 loss to Omaha.
Paxton’s ensuing high pitch count – 56 pitches through two innings – led to his exit after the third, during which he gave up three earned runs on seven hits to trail 4-0.
“I know he was disappointed in coming out so early,” Rainiers manager John Stearns said. “He had a disappointing outing for himself. It certainly wasn’t like the last four starts, but that’s part of development. He has to take the good and the bad and take that and get better.”
The Rainiers (60-52) were hoping a July vintage Paxton would get them out their recent funk. Instead, his performance, combined with the club’s anemic offense again – six hits, 14 strikeouts – continued the downward spiral of a six-game losing streak. A loss Friday in the series finale would result in Tacoma being swept at home for the second time this season, the first was by Reno in four games July 11-14.
The offense continues to be a downfall in recent weeks.
“We’ve hit a wall offensively,” Stearns said, “and we’re not really competing offensively.”
The Rainiers pulled within 4-2 in the fourth with Steve Savastano’s sacrifice fly and a Carlos Truinfel RBI single, but Tacoma was 1-for-10 for runners in scoring position, including the bases loaded with zero outs in the sixth.
Former Seattle Mariners player Ben Broussard, who was in 145 games with the Mariners in 2006 and ’07, went 2-for-5 with a pair of RBI in the first inning for Omaha (56-57). He’s hitting .284 since being signed by Kansas City on July 4 from the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League.
All but two Omaha batters had at least one hit.
The Rainiers and Storm Chasers conclude their four-game series at 7:05 p.m. Friday. Right-hander Andrew Carraway (6-4, 4.45 ERA) goes against Omaha and left-hander Danny Duffy (2-0, 4.50). The game will be broadcast on 850-AM.Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 firstname.lastname@example.org