SEATTLE – This was not going to be an ordinary baseball game.
That much was clear from the time it was announced that Mariners starter Mike Leake was a late scratch from Tuesday night’s matchup against the Houston Astros because he was feeling ill.
With short-inning relievers getting the starts – Nick Vincent for Seattle and Brad Peacock for Houston – it had all the makings of a strange game.
Strange indeed, unless you were expecting the game to come down to a pitchers’ duel between the Mariners’ Ross Detwiler and the Astros’ Framber Valdez, two pitchers who began the day expecting to start for their Triple-A teams.
Detwiler was respectable, but Valdez was even better, and Houston defeated the Mariners 3-2 in front of 24,515. Seattle fell 4 1/2 games behind Houston and Oakland, co-leaders of the American League West.
Detwiler, who took the loss, began the afternoon at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma getting prepared to start for the Rainiers against Reno.
Valdez, who got the win, began Tuesday expecting to be starting for Fresno at Sacramento. Instead, he caught a flight to Seattle and threw 4 1/3 innings of relief in his major league debut, allowing just an unearned run.
When Detwiler, who began the season in the independent league, got the news of his promotion a few hours before his scheduled start, he hugged teammates and was on his way to Safeco Field.
Detwiler allowed three runs in six innings. He gave up eight hits and two walks, but helped himself by getting Houston to hit into five double plays (the Mariners had a team-record tying six for the game).
The teams knew they would have to get creative to fill up innings.
It was the first start of Vincent’s career. His longest outing of the season was 1 1/3 innings, and his longest career outing was three innings in 2013 with San Diego.
The Mariners got everything they could have hoped for from Vincent, who threw two scoreless innings.
Peacock, whose longest outing of the season had been two innings, threw 1 2/3 scoreless innings for Houston, basically battling Vincent to a draw. So it came down to the next guys in, Detwiler and Valdez.
The Mariners made it interesting in the eighth inning against a much more familiar reliever, Roberto Osuna, the former Blue Jays reliever, who was recently acquired by Houston. Three of the first four hitters in the inning singled for Seattle, with Ben Gamel driving in Denard Span to cut Houston’s lead to 3-2 and put runners on first and third with one out.
But Osuna battled back, striking out pinch-hitter Nelson Cruz and Dee Gordon to get out of the inning with the lead intact.
Paxton plays catch
James Paxton continued his throwing progression as he recovers from a contusion on his left forearm. Paxton played catch out to 160-170 feet before Tuesday’s game.
The plan is for him to play catch again today – pushing the distance out farther – and then possibly throw a bullpen session on Thursday morning before team flies to Arizona on an offday.
“I don’t know the exact plan,” Paxton said before throwing.
How is the forearm?
“It’s been good,” he said. “I haven’t had any issues with the forearm at all. It’s been pretty good. I think it’s really close. There’s still a little bit of soreness to the touch like when I press on it. But I think the inflammation is just about all the way out there. I’m going to ramp it up and see how it responds.”
With Detwiler coming up, reliever Chasen Bradford was sent to Triple-A Tacoma. … In order to add Detwiler to the 40-man roster, INF Zach Vincej was designated for assignment.
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