The eagle had landed.
Right on the Big Maple.
It clearly took James Paxton’s Mariners commercial a little too seriously. Paxton had his hand over his chest in left field during the national anthem before the Mariners’ game in Minneapolis against the Twins and a bald eagle flew into Paxton's vicinity.
It seemed to believe Paxton was its handler, first trying to land on him, and then it actually did, resting its talons on Paxton’s right shoulder.
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"I guess the eagle knew I was Canadian," Paxton said after the Mariners' 4-2 loss to the Twins. "I don't know. But it came for me."
Fortunately for him and the Mariners, he’s a left-handed pitcher.
It was part of the Twins' home-opener ceremony.
"The talons, I don't think they punctured me," Paxton said. "They were sharp on my back, but I don't have any scratches I don't believe."
But you had to wonder if there was some American-Canadian show of solidarity being displayed between the British Columbia native, Paxton, and the eagle.
The best part was probably Paxton’s reaction. He was mostly composed while this large eagle was attracted to the pitcher they call Big Maple. He has a tattoo of a maple leaf on his forearm, so he certainly looked more like a tree than anyone else there.
"I was thinking about the game, I wasn't thinking about the eagle," Paxton said. "I wasn't going to run. I was like, 'I'm not going to outrun an eagle. So might as well see what happens."
His teammates might not have handled that so well."
"Felix probably would have ran away screaming," Mariners manager Scott Servais said afterward. "I think he was clear on that."
Servais said he was standing next to center fielder Dee Gordon at the time. He seemed to have some fun with it, despite the Mariners losing, 4-2.
"Dee is standing next to me and I think he was like, 'I don't think the that eagle is going to land on that guy (the handler). I think he's going to land on you.'" Servais said. "Then he ends up landing on James.
"You don't see that every day."
In one of the Mariners’ commercials, Paxton reveals that he harbors some bird eggs within his hat.
“Glad you guys aren’t Blue Jays. Or Orioles,” Paxton says.
But maybe eagles?
"I guess so," Paxton said. "It grew up and tried to come back and sit in the tree, I guess."
Cameras caught the incident moments before Seattle's game at Minnesota. Paxton was the starting pitcher.
And he seemed to start the game OK, sitting the Twins down 1-2-3 in the first inning, including a strikeout of Miguel Sano. He finished after five innings, having allowed two runs with seven strikeouts.