K-PAX 6.1 ip 2h 1r 1 er 2 bb 3 k
Took a perfect game into the sixth ... with his Grade C stuff. On my scouting clipboard, at least. Starting about the 4th-5th it was his Grade B stuff.
He did not have the 97-99 fastball at his disposal. He was unable to hit both sides of the plate, putting the fear of Zeus (or at least of the training room!) into the batters. His offspeed stuff was moving but it was anybody's guess whether it would hit the zone, much less the low part of the zone. He had no fosh.
What did he have? He had what James Paxton has every time, before he throws the first pitch: he had the batters starting their launch before they saw the ball. He was able to throw the fastball for strikes, occasionally to spots -- so he pitched ahead. The knuckle curve showed up enough so that it was at least in the hitters' heads. What was intriguing: he threw an honest-to-goodness, real live CHANGE UP -- an 85 MPH pitch that tailed armside just like his fastball does.
He also got 9 grounders vs. 3 flyballs, reminding us that the Grade B K-Pax is well capable of going 17-9 in the American League. But the real development was
He hit 6-of-11 cambio free throws, with two swings and misses. This is the pitch that CC Sabathia developed about the 50th start of his career, right before Sabathia spent 10 years as the Chris Sale of the 00's.
A 4th pitch? It's a sword that cuts two ways.
(1) DOWN - Paxton is still trying to throw 2 pitches on a night-in, night out basis, and the lack of focus will not accelerate his trek up the mountain to HOF performance.
(2) UP - You know and I know that AL batters cannot deal with 2 pitches from this monster, much less ... FOUR (4) pitches?! James Paxton continues to present the league with the spectacle of a 2,300 bull, rapier-sharp horns, bucking and blasting around in his paddock with the gate subject to swinging open at any moment.
(3) UP - For a guy like Paxton, it's one more pitch that MIGHT be available to him on any given night. You've watched as he tries a foshball/"slider", can't find it, and winds up with a knuckle curve about the 3rd inning. And, vice versa. Does this increase the probability of a pariticular whipsaw pitch on Evening X? ... hmmm... Probably.
(4) Lefty changeups / hot fastballs are a dynamic template. Cole Hamels, Johan Santana, the imaginary incarnation of sidearm Danny Hultzen.
Here is the video of K-Pax' quality start and win.
First pitch - bad changeup by Pax' standards, easy 2-hop bouncer to Seags.
Second pitch - well-located heater only 93 MPH.
Third pitch - Zeus vicious 96 MPH on the black to a lefty. Tip yer cap.
Fourth pitch - Zeus wipeout knuckle curve.
Fifth pitch - Zeus ladder fastball. to a lefty? G'luck mate.
Wish the tape contained a couple of Paxton's dead-fish low-away changeups. Ah, c'est la vie.
Sudden Jean went 4-for-5. His .338 AVG would be #1 in the American League if he had a little more time in. Brendan Ryan and Jack Wilson did not frequently provide the Mariners with a shortstop who was the best HITter in the league.
Robby had the decisive three run shot plus a walk; if you just joined us he is evolving into more Old Players' Skills, pitch-stalking and going yard on a 39-per-year basis.
Booooog had two hits in the game -- you and I would not get two hits in an AL game -- and maintains a 6:8 EYE in his niggling 32 AB's for the M's this season. It serves as a reminder that the M's have traffic in the OF pipeline beyond the four wonderful athletes we got out there now. Speaking of -
Ja-ROD Dyson leads the ballclub in WAR. Did you know that? He's at 90 offense, giving us defense that Leonys Martin would be proud to show, and is #2 in the league for runs generated while out on the bases. 19-4 in stolen bases first half, or 195-34 lifetime. This is the center fielder we've always wanted.
For all the M's injuries, they go into the 2H in the middle of a 7-team pack that is 0.0 to 2.0 games bunched. Sully offered in his Friday chat that for the WC games he fancies NYY and Seattle.
Andrew Moore tonight,