Canadian pitcher James Paxton throws no-hitter against Blue Jays
Seattle Mariners lefty from Ladner, B.C., 1st Canadian since 1945 to achieve feat
Canadian pitcher James Paxton threw a no-hitter for the Seattle Mariners against the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday in a 5-0 win at the Rogers Centre.
The 29-year-old lefty from Ladner, B.C., became the first Canadian to achieve the feat since Dick Fowler of Toronto pitched a no-hitter for the Philadelphia Athletics on Sept. 9, 1945, his first start in three years after serving for the Canadian Army in the Second World War.
The six foot four Paxton is also the first Canadian to throw a no-hitter in his home country and the first pitcher to throw one against the Blue Jays since Justin Verlander's no-hit performance with the Detroit Tigers on May 7, 2011.
Paxton pointed to a tattoo on his right forearm of a maple leaf as he celebrated to a standing ovation at Rogers Centre.
"Of all places, to do it in Toronto, it's pretty amazing," said Paxton, who was drafted by the Blue Jays in 2009 but did not sign with the team. "The fans were great. They were giving me some trouble in the seventh inning, but once I got past that, they started kind of cheering me on. It was cool."
It was the third no-hitter of the 2018 MLB season; Oakland A's pitcher Sean Manaea no-hit the Boston Red Sox on April 21, while four Los Angeles Dodgers pitchers — Walker Buehler, Tony Cingrani, Yimi Garcia and Adam Liberatore — combined to no-hit the San Diego Padres on May 4 in Mexico City.
Efficient effort from 'Big Maple'
Coming off a career-high 16 strikeouts in his last start, Paxton — who was selected by the Mariners in the 2010 draft — was electric once again, hitting 100 mph with his fastball while retiring Josh Donaldson on his 99th pitch to end it.
"I mean, Josh Donaldson, the guy's pretty good. I was like: 'I better bring my best stuff for him, I'm going to rear back and throw it as hard as I can. ... I'm going to let it rip top of the zone and see what happens,"' Paxton said.
Donaldson hit the ball hard to third baseman Kyle Seager, who collected it and fired to first for the final out.
"I saw the ball rocket to third and I kinda spun around and saw Seager, it looked like he caught it with his stomach," Paxton said with a laugh. "All of a sudden I see him throwing the ball to first base and I was just kinda shocked like I can't believe that just happened."
Paxton (2-1) struck out seven, walked three and benefited from an outstanding play by Seager. With two outs in the seventh, Seager made a full-length diving stop on speedy Kevin Pillar's grounder down the line, then slung an off-balance throw that first baseman Ryon Healy snagged on one hop.
Kyle Seager’s going to get a nice steak dinner from <a href="https://twitter.com/James_Paxton?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@James_Paxton</a>. <a href="https://t.co/sZK2O0NaQC">pic.twitter.com/sZK2O0NaQC</a>—@MLB
Russell Martin led off the Toronto eighth with a long drive that left fielder Ben Gamel caught near the wall.
"What a defence tonight. That was amazing. Those guys were making every play," Paxton said.
Anthony Alford fouled out on the first pitch to begin the ninth and Teoscar Hernandez struck out swinging. Donaldson ended it with a hard one-hopper to Seager.
Healy pumped his fist after catching Seager's throw, and the Mariners streamed out of the dugout, dousing their pitcher with a cooler as the crowd of 20,513 cheered.
After his teammates had left the field, Paxton came back out and waved to the fans as they clapped in appreciation of his feat.
Paxton's season has taken off since a bald eagle mistakenly landed on his shoulder before a start last month. The pitcher affectionately known as "Big Maple" is 2-0 with a 2.51 ERA over seven starts since the bird stuck its talons into his back before the Minnesota Twins' home opener.
He was coming off a Canadian record-setting 16-strikeout performance in his last start, a no-decision against Oakland.
BREAKING: <a href="https://twitter.com/James_Paxton?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@James_Paxton</a> becomes the 1st pitcher in <a href="https://twitter.com/MLB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MLB</a> & <a href="https://twitter.com/Mariners?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Mariners</a> history to throw a no-hitter after being attacked by a bald eagle (probably). <a href="https://t.co/Plt83IViYK">pic.twitter.com/Plt83IViYK</a>—@Cut4
This was the sixth no-hitter for the Mariners franchise, and the first since Hisashi Iwakuma did it against Baltimore in 2015. Felix Hernandez threw a perfect game in 2012, and Randy Johnson tossed Seattle's first no-hitter in 1990. Toronto has been no-hit five times.
Mike Zunino hit a two-run homer as the Mariners improved to 12-6 on the road.
Marcus Stroman (0-5) remained winless in seven starts. The right-hander allowed five runs and nine hits in five innings, and has a 7.71 ERA.
With files from The Associated Press and The Canadian Press