SEATTLE (AP) — James Paxton had maybe the best start of his young career Sunday. In even better news for the Seattle Mariners, he’s doing well after taking a line drive off his pitching arm.
Paxton took a four-hitter into the ninth inning before he was forced from the game by the line drive, and the Mariners beat the Los Angeles Angels 3-1 to sweep the three-game series.
X-rays on Paxton were negative, and the left-hander has just a contusion on his left elbow. He’s listed as day-to-day.
Paxton, whose dominant day included striking out Mike Trout four times, was on the verge of his first career complete game when he was struck with one out in the ninth by the line drive from Andrelton Simmons, who reached on the infield single.
“I just feel sick to my stomach for him and everybody involved, to pitch the ballgame he did,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “It was an opportunity for him to try to close it out. I thought his stuff was great and I felt good about having him out there in the ninth inning.”
Mike Freeman, making his Mariners debut after being called up earlier in the day from Triple-A Tacoma, had his first two major league hits, including an RBI single to cap the decisive three-run fourth inning.
Tom Wilhelmsen got the final two outs for his first save since Oct. 4, 2015. Paxton struck out six with one walk in a career-high 8 1/3 innings.
“It’s awful, clearly,” Wilhelmsen said. “He was throwing a gem and did everything he did to really help a taxing bullpen right now. He just did a tremendous job and you’d like to see him finish that off. A laser beam like that off any part of your body, let alone your throwing arm, is really scary.”
Matt Shoemaker (6-12) allowed three runs and seven hits in seven innings, striking out three, but hitting three batters.
Seattle erased a 1-0 deficit with three runs in the fourth inning, although the Angels prevented a bigger inning with two stellar defensive plays.
Seth Smith, Kyle Seager and Nelson Cruz opened with consecutive singles for the first run. After Adam Lind was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Trout prevented a grand slam with a leaping catch above the center-field wall on Leonys Martin’s sacrifice fly that made it 2-1.
Mike Zunino then bounced to shortstop Simmons, who threw out Cruz at home. Freeman, who singled in his first at-bat in the third, followed with an RBI single.
“Paxton had good stuff and pitched a strong game. Shoe had his back up against the wall,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “In the fourth inning we made some nice defensive plays to keep ourselves in, but those guys kept pressuring us and got the three runs.”
Freeman, who had played in four games at Tacoma after being acquired from Arizona on waivers on Monday, was 0 for 9 with two walks in 11 plate appearances with the Diamondbacks.
“Obviously, there was nerves,” said Freeman, who did not yet have a nameplate above his locker. “I feel nervous pretty much before any game, but just to be back in the big leagues, a lot of excitement.”
The Angels pushed across an unearned run in the third after shortstop Sean O’Malley booted Shane Robinson’s one-out chopper. Robinson came around on singles by Kole Calhoun and Albert Pujols.
Trout, celebrating his 25th birthday, struck out four times for the fourth time in his career. The last was Sept. 7, 2014, also against Paxton.
“I can’t pick his stuff up. I don’t know. It was just one of those days,” Trout said. “Just not picking it up, not getting my foot down.”
CANO’S STREAK ENDS
Seattle 2B Robinson Cano was given the day off, ending his consecutive games started streak at 167, the longest in the majors.
Angels: 3B Yunel Escobar, who injured his left knee on the final play Saturday, was scratched Sunday from the leadoff spot after the knee bothered him during pregame warm-ups.
Mariners: SS Ketel Marte, on the 15-day DL with mononucleosis, was scheduled to play again Sunday night with Triple-A Tacoma. “I’m hopeful we get him before we go on the road trip,” Servais said, referring to the three-game series at Oakland that begins Friday. … RHP Nick Vincent was activated off the 15-day DL (mid-back strain). Vincent is 2-3 with a 3.47 ERA and one save in 35 games with Seattle. He made one rehab appearance with Class A Short-Season Everett, striking out three in one scoreless inning. … INF Luis Sardinas and RHP Cody Martin were optioned to Tacoma.
Angels: After a day off Monday, Los Angeles heads to Chicago for a two-game series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. In two career starts against the Cubs, RHP Jered Weaver (8-8, 5.11) has allowed just one earned run in 13 innings.
Mariners: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (12-7, 3.99 ERA) opens the three-game series against Detroit on Monday, the final set of a 10-game homestand. Iwakuma is 11-3 in his last 14 starts.
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