SEATTLE -- The Mariners have been waiting for young pitchers James Paxton and Taijuan Walker to come around this season to help bolster a starting rotation that has received outstanding early work from veterans Felix Hernandez and J.A. Happ. And despite some control issues Tuesday, Paxton delivered his first win of the season in Seattle's 11-4 victory over the Padres at Safeco Field.
"It's always great to get the team a win," Paxton said after improving to 1-2 with a 4.31 ERA with six scoreless innings. "That felt good. And the guys were swinging it. What did we have tonight, six homers? That was crazy. It was awesome to have the guys swinging the bats like they were."
Paxton didn't deliver your typical six shutout frames. He walked five in a 106-pitch night and twice had to wiggle out of bases-loaded jams. He needed 38 pitches to survive the second-inning alone, coming within a whisker of getting pulled at that point by manager Lloyd McClendon.
But in the end, he worked through six frames and continued building on his recent run of success. The 26-year-old lefty is 1-1 with a 1.82 ERA over his last four starts after posting an 8.40 ERA in his first three outings.
"His arm felt great, he was touching 97 at times," said McClendon. "He just couldn't harness it tonight for some reason. His pitch count got way up there real quick. But it was fortunate he was able to give us six innings."
Paxton walked the bases full in the second, each time on 3-2 pitches when he couldn't get the third strike, before escaping with an infield pop-up by Clint Barmes. He got Barmes again, striking him out looking, to leave the sacks loaded again in the fourth.
"It was weird," Paxton said. "It was one of those things where my arm felt so lively, it was hard to contain. It was hard to hit my spots, but I just had to let it rip and go after them. I was just trying to go after them with the fastball. That was working. I was just going after guys."
"The whole night we had nine walks or something," said catcher Mike Zunino. "It felt like that long of a game. But he did a great job giving us six innings. He couldn't hit the corners or the thirds he wanted, but he worked over the plate and he's got a fastball that he can do that with."
And in the end, Paxton finally recorded his first win of the season, a welcome sign for a club that had seen the Mariners go 11-2 in games started by Hernandez and Happ, but just 3-15 in the rest of their games until Tuesday.
"It's not how you'd draw it up, but zeroes and we got the win," Paxton said. "Obviously, I don't want to walk five guys. I was a little bit all over the place. I want to clean that up. But I felt like the ball was coming out really good. I had some life and that showed. They had trouble squaring balls up. So I just need to bring that into the zone."