BY Steve Rudman 12:42PM 04/03/2014

James Paxton Joins Rare, If Obscure, Company

James Paxton improved 4-0, 1.16 for his career Wednesday night, momentarily resurrecting the career of long-gone Red Sox lefty Boo Ferris.

James Paxton limited the L.A. Angels to two hits over seven innings and fanned nine in Seattle’s 8-2 victory Wednesday night.

Baseball’s voluminous archives, digital and print, are skimpy on details regarding the brief career of Dave Meadow “Boo” Ferris, who toiled for the Boston Red Sox for a half a decade following World War II prior to a long stint as head coach at Mississippi State. But we do know that Boo Ferris set one record of note that stood until 2008. In 1945, Ferris began his career with 22 consecutive scoreless innings en route to a 21-10, 2.96 rookie season.

Especially exceptional were Boo’s first five outings. He went 5-0 with a 0.60 ERA, making him the only pitcher in major league history – until Wednesday night – to start a career either 4-0 or 5-0 with an ERA under 1.25.

Seattle’s James Paxton now keeps company with the rather obscure Boo Ferris. After going 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA in four starts last September, Paxton blanked the Los Angeles Angels over seven innings Wednesday, allowing two hits with nine strikeouts among 99 pitches. Paxton now stands 4-0 with a 1.16 ERA in his five-game career. But wait, there’s more.

Paxton is also only the second pitcher in Seattle history to win four of his first five big league outings. The other was not, as you might suspect, Felix Hernandez, but Michael Pineda, who did it in 2011. Speaking of Hernandez, this is how he opened his career in August 2005 vs. how Paxton launched his:

Pitcher Year Age Rec. IP ERA WHIP K’s 9
Felix Hernandez 2005 19 2-1 36.0 1.75 0.778 9.50
James Paxton 2013-14 25 4-0 31.0 1.16 0.839 8.71

Also worth noting:

HART’S LATE HOMER: Corey Hart’s ninth-inning home run Wednesday off Ernesto Frieri, the first of his Seattle career, did more than give the Mariners an 8-0 lead. According to MLB Play Index, it enabled the Mariners to become the 15th team in the live-ball era (since 1920) to score at least eight runs in each of their first three games. The last team: the 2009 Texas Rangers.

BEATDOWN: Not only did the Mariners outscore the Angels 26-8 during the three-game sweep, Seattle’s first in Anaheim since June 9-11, 2006, they tallied 18 of their runs with two outs (Mariners 3-0 at Angel Stadium this year after going 2-9 last year). The Mariners are 3-0 for the third time in franchise history (also 1985 and 1995).

BLOWING SMOAK: Justin Smoak went 6-for-14 with two doubles, two homers, a .462 batting average and ridiculously good 1.577 OPS during the three games in Anaheim.  He also produced seven RBIs, all the more remarkable when it’s considered that in his Seattle career (since mid-2010), Smoak has driven in fewer than seven runs in NINE DIFFERENT MONTHS.

Another Smoak factoid: He accumulated his seven RBIs in just 14 plate appearances. It took 163 plate appearances for Smoak to get to seven RBIs last season.

CANO’S ROI: Robinson Cano, who left the New York Yankees after nine seasons to sign a 10-year, $240 million free-agent contract with the Mariners, finished his first series in local togs 5-for-11 with two intentional walks. Cano reached base in 9 of 15 plate appearances, hitting .455.

KINGS OF K: The three Mariners starters in the Angels series, Felix Hernandez (11), Erasmo Ramirez (6) and James Paxton (9), combined for 26 strikeouts during the sweep. This is how that total compares to Seattle’s starters in the first three games of a season since 1995:

Year Starters Total
2014 Felix Hernandez (11), Erasmo Ramirez (6), James Paxton (9) 26
1996 Randy Johnson (14), Sterling Hitchcock (2), Bob Wolcott (3) 19
2007 Felix Hernandez (12), Jarrod Washburn (2), Miguel Batista (5) 19
2013 Felix Hernandez (8), Hisashi Iwakuma (7), Joe Saunders (3) 18
2009 Felix Hernandez (6), Erik Bedard (8), Carlos Silva (2) 16
1999 Jeff Fassero (3), Jamie Moyer (7), Freddy Garcia (5) 15
1995 Randy Johnson (8), Chris Bosio (5), Dave Fleming (1) 14
2004 Jamie Moyer (1), Joel Pineiro (6), Freddy Garcia (7) 14

FURTHER REVIEW: When Brad Miller, who went 2-for-5 with a run scored Wednesday, hit two homers Tuesday, he became the third player since 1916 to record as many as four multi-homer games in the first 80 games of a career. He joined Bob Horner of Atlanta (1978) and Jason Bay of Pittsburgh (2003-04).

AL WEST: The Astros, 51-111 last season, improved to 2-0 with a 3-1 win over the Yankees Wednesday. Of the 19 other major-league teams to lose at least 110 games in a season, only two, according to Elias, began the next season by winning their first two games: Detroit in 2004 and St. Louis in 1899.

EX-MARINERS: Aaron Harang, who rarely took a no-hitter past the leadoff hitter when he pitched for Seattle last season, took a no-no into the seventh inning of the Atlanta Braves 1-0 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers Wednesday. Harang didn’t allow a hit until Logan Schafer singled leading off the bottom of the seventh. He gave up two hits in 6.2 innings, struck out three and walked one in his first start with the Braves. Harang spent most of spring training with Cleveland on a minor league contract and signed with the Braves March 24.

Oddly, Milwaukee’s Matt Garza, the loser, also took a no-hitter into the seventh inning. According to Elias, over the last 30 years there have been only two other major league games in which each team went hitless through six innings: Giants vs. Marlins in 1997 and White Sox vs. Cubs in 2010.

OF Xavier Avery, designated for assignment last week, cleared waivers Wednesday and was assigned to AAA Tacoma. The Pirates claimed LHP Bobby LaFromboise and assigned to AAA El Paso. The Dodgers claimed SS Carlos Triunfel and assigned him to AAA Albuquerque.

SLIDE STAT: According to the state Department of Transportation, the Oso landslide generated enough mud to cover the entire island of Manhattan to a depth of 2.5 inches. Both the Seahawks and Mariners have responded to the tragedy, with the Mariners donating $225,000 to assist with recovery efforts. The donation will be made to the American Red Cross Washington Landslide Relief Fund. Red Cross volunteers will be collecting donations from the public outside the Safeco Field gates April 8, when the Mariners play their home opener against the Angels.

NEXT: The Mariners begin a four-game series in Oakland Thursday night with rookie Roenis Elias (6-11, 3.18 in AA last season) scheduled to throw against RHP Jesse Chavez (2-4, 3.92). Elias will become the third native Cuban to pitch for the Mariners following Diego Segui in 1977 and Tony Fossas in 1998.


YourThoughts

  • jafabian

    I was watching him pitch last night and I was going “Who is this guy? Mark Langston?” Solid performance by him.