In the first game of the final homestand of the season for the Tacoma Rainiers, James Paxton made his first rehabilitation start and but didn’t last an inning as the Rainiers lost to the Memphis Redbirds, 8-2, on Sunday.
Paxton, who went on the disabled list May 29 with a strained tendon in his left middle finger, was slated to throw 40 pitches. He went two-thirds of an inning, giving up one earned run while allowing two hits, striking out one, walking one and threw 36 pitches (22 for strikes) at Cheney Stadium in front of a crowd of 6,694.
“I felt great. It was great to get back out on the mound and feel healthy with no pain at all,” Paxton said. “I felt like I was making some great pitches that they were just fouling off.”
Paxton was able to get the Redbirds leadoff hitter to ground out. He then gave up a single to third baseman Jacob Wilson, who advanced to second on a Paxton wild pitch. Paxton was able to collect one more out, but then gave up a walk and a single to Anthony Garcia to score a run.
“I left a change-up up and the batter was able to get enough on it to hit it to center,” Paxton said of Garcia’s RBI single.
Paxton is scheduled to make his second rehab start with the Rainiers on Friday, and is expected to throw 60 to 70 pitches as long as his health is fine, Rainiers manager Pat Listach said.
“I just want to continue to make pitches, and hopefully go a bit further in my next start,” Paxton said. “I’m just going to stick with my process and keep trying to execute pitches.”
Listach said Paxton threw well, and that he felt good.
“The ball was coming out of his pretty good, especially with the 95-mph stuff from the left side of the mound,” Listach said.
Paxton was replaced by Logan Bawcom with two outs in the first inning and was able to strike out the batter. During the second inning, he allowed three runs as Memphis led, 4-0.
Bawcom was replaced by fellow reliever Lucas Luetge with two outs in the fourth. Luetge allowed another run in the sixth inning to give the Redbirds a 5-2 lead. Rainiers first baseman Patrick Kivlehan hit a solo homer to make it 4-2 in the bottom of the fourth.
The Rainiers weren’t able to score after that, and reliever Jose Ramirez allowed three runs in the seventh inning to put the Redbirds up by six.
Rainiers infielder Leury Bonilla has a six-game hitting streak after going 1 for 3 with a single. … Kivlehan leads the Rainiers with 18 home runs. ... The Redbirds will start Marco Gonzales and Arturo Reyes, two former Gonzaga University pitchers who were college teammates with Rainiers reliever Tyler Olson, during the four-game series against the Rainiers.
The Rainiers will face the Redbirds at 7:05 p.m. Monday. The Rainiers will start right-hander Adrian Sampson (1-3, 6.56 ERA) against lefty Nick Greenwood (11-5, 5.14).