SEATTLE (AP) — James Paxton gave Seattle manager Scott Servais and the Mariners exactly the reset they needed after a horrid first week on the road.
“It’s opening day, the first day of the season,” Servais joked. “With what happened this last week, especially yesterday, we needed to bounce back. I felt strongly we would.”
Paxton provided the fresh start, pitching seven innings of four-hit ball and leading the Mariners past the Houston Astros 6-0 on Monday in Seattle’s home opener.
Paxton shut down Houston for the second time in a week, helping the Mariners rebound from Sunday’s ugly ninth-inning collapse against the Angels when they gave up seven runs and lost 10-9. Paxton (1-0) kept Houston’s offense silent long enough for Seattle’s bats to wake up and finally convert with runners in scoring position. He struck out eight and walked two while pitching in Seattle’s home opener for the second time in his career.
“I feel really confident in what I’m doing and focusing on the process of what I need to do out there … and so far getting the good results we need,” Paxton said.
In 13 innings against the Astros this season, Paxton has not allowed a run and scattered six hits. Carlos Correa had Houston’s first three hits on Monday — two of which didn’t leave the infield — and Carlos Beltran added a single in the seventh inning to put two runners on with no outs. Paxton got Evan Gattis to foul out, struck out Marwin Gonzalez and got defensive help from Leonys Martin running down Josh Reddick’s drive to cap the outing.
“I think he’s gonna give the whole league a hard time if he has that kind of power and that kind of ability to land his breaking ball — development things over the last year or so we’ve seen him do,” Houston manager A.J. Hinch said of Paxton.
Nelson Cruz finally broke through with a two-run single in the fifth inning to give Seattle the lead and Mitch Haniger followed an inning later with a two-out RBI single. Seattle was 8 for 57 through the first seven games and 1 of 8 on Monday with runners in scoring position before Cruz lined Charlie Morton’s pitch into center field.
Morton (0-1) allowed three runs and seven hits and struck out six. He escaped jams in the third and fourth innings before Cruz came through for Seattle in the fifth.