Paxton finds groove, but bullpen hiccup causes walk-off loss to Chicago

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

8/25 at CWS by TOM HAYDEN

67-60, 7.5 GB in AL WEST ----

The Mariners were very narrowly defeated by the Chicago White Sox on Thursday night to open up this 4-game series by a final score of 7-6. LHP James Paxton was the story of this one prior to it even starting because he would be making his return off of the 15-day disabled list for the start. The Mariners really need Paxton at this time of the year because he has been so successful on the hill for the M's. After a bumpy start, J Pax settled down and was able to pitch a decent outing for Seattle. Offense was also there to back him up in this one, as they also got going early after putting up only 1 run in 18 innings played against the New York Yankees in the series prior. It was the bullpen that let this one go, however, as the Mariners entered the seventh inning with a 3-run lead but couldn't hang on. With the loss, our Mariners have fallen to 67-60 on the season so far, and are 7.5 games in back of the first place Texas Rangers in the American League Western division standings. For a Wild Card spot, the M's are still right there, just 3.0 games behind the Baltimore Orioles, and tied with the Detroit Tigers in the chase!

On the mound on Thursday night, LHP James Paxton made his 14th start of the season and first since earlier this month (8/7 vs LAA) after being placed on the 15-day DL with a left elbow contusion. Entering the game, Paxton had a W-L record of 4-5 with a 3.53 ERA. On Thursday night for Seattle, Paxton went 5.0 decent innings giving up 3 runs on 7 hits (all runs earned) while walking 1 and striking out 5 White Sox on the night. He kept the ball in the park, which is crucial to do at this stage of the game. J Pax's outing was a no decision, so he maintains that W-L record of 4-5 on the season, but still has a solid ERA of 3.63 in 86.2 innings pitched in 2016. In relief on Thursday night were RHP Tom Wilhelmsen (7.02 ERA) who bounced back from a tough outing last week against the Milwaukee Brewers as he tossed 1.0 inning of no hit ball. Wilhelmsen earned his 11th hold of the season on Thursday night. RHP Arquimedes Caminero (3.44 ERA) then came into pitch earning his 8th hold of the season in 0.1 innings of work. Caminero struggled however, and was chareged with giving up 3 runs, none of which earned, to allow Chicago to get back into this game. Arquimedes walked a batter in his outing. RHP Steve Cishek (3.14 ERA) then worked the next 1.2 innings of the game. Cishek gave up runs from runners Caminero put on base. Cishek walked 1 and struck out 2 in his outing, also giving up 1 hit. Steve unfortunately suffered his 7th blown save of the season. It was then RHP Nick Vincent who couldn't send this ball game into extras in the bottom of the ninth, as he blew a 6-6 tie in 0.1 innings of work. Vincent gave up 1 run on 2 hits (earned) while walking 1 in his outing. Vincent now has an individual W-L record of 3-4 on the season with a 4.00 ERA. 

Offensively on Thursday night the Mariners were able to put up 6 runs on 7 hits off of CWS RHP Anthony Ranaudo, and LHP Dan Jennings. Getting this thing started for Seattle was RF Seth Smith (.259 AVG) who went 1-for-3 at the plate notching an RBI double in the top of the first inning to score Norichika Aoki. The double was Smith's 13th of the season and the RBI, his 49th in 108 games played this year. 2B robinson Canó (.298 AVG) went 2-for-4 at the plate on Thursday night notching a pair of singles and an RBI for the Mariners. Canó connected for his 29th homer of the season on Thursday night for his 80th RBI of the season, a solo homer.  DH Nelson Cruz (.283 AVG) went 1-for-3 at the plate on Thursday night with a single and an RBI from a sacrifice fly out in the top of the first inning, putting Seattle up 2-0 at the time. The RBI now gives Cruz 79 on the season so far. 1B Adam Lind (.231 AVG) went 1-for-4 at the plate notching an RBI single to right field in the top of the sixth inning to score Robbie Canó. The RBI now gives Lind a total of 50 even on the season. Also contributing offensively on Thursday night for the M's was CF Leonys Martin (.248 AVG) who connected for his 40th RBI on the season in a 2 RBI night at the dish. Martin went 1-for-4 up at bat and connected for a single to center field that scored both Adam Lind and Nelson Cruz to give Seattle a 6-3 lead over Chicago at that time. 


The M's will now look to bounce back from this tough Thursday night loss on Friday night for what will be game 2 of this 4-game series with the 61-65 Chicago White Sox. Happy Felix Day as the King, RHP Felix Hernandez is set and ready to make his 18th start of the season for Seattle. Hernandez (8-4, 3.22 ERA) and the M's are set to face CWS all-star LHP ace Chris Sale (15-6, 3.33 ERA)! Be sure to catch all of the game 2 action on ROOT Sports NW for watching or listen in on 710 ESPN Seattle radio! First pitch start time- 5:10 PM PAC, 8:10 PM ET! 

This is Tom Hayden signing off saying Go Mariners! Stay #TrueToTheBlue as our M's #KeepFighting.