Statcast of the Day: Cruz's mammoth blast

Mariners slugger's 493-foot homer is MLB's second longest of season

Statcast of the Day: Cruz's mammoth blast

MINNEAPOLIS -- Nelson Cruz seems to be warming up for the stretch run, judging by his latest home run -- the second-longest blast in the Major Leagues this season, according to Statcast™ projections.

Cruz launched a two-run shot a projected 493 feet into the upper deck at Target Field in the fourth inning of the Mariners' 3-2 loss to the Twins. The blast, off Twins right-hander Tyler Duffey, tied the game at 2. The only longer home run measured by Statcast™ this season was a 504-footer by Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton off the Rockies' Chad Bettis on Aug. 6 at Coors Field.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mariners come up short against Twins

Mariners come up short against Twins

MINNEAPOLIS -- Other than a prodigious blast by Nelson Cruz, right-hander Tyler Duffey shut down the Mariners for seven innings Saturday as the Twins snapped a seven-game losing streak and dented Seattle's Wild Card pursuits with a 3-2 victory at Target Field.

Duffey held the Mariners to four hits and two runs, both coming on a Cruz blast projected at 493 feet by Statcast™, the second-longest in the Majors this year. Duffey (9-11, 6.18 ERA) had been 0-3 with an 11.15 ERA his previous four starts, but he shut down the Mariners and helped stave off the Twins' 100th loss of the season as they improved to 56-99.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Marte working hard to regain timing at plate

Mariners shortstop has not been as effective since midseason illness

Marte working hard to regain timing at plate

MINNEAPOLIS -- At first, Ketel Marte was just looking for the 22 pounds he lost while dealing with an untimely bout with mononucleosis. But now, the Mariners' young shortstop is searching for the hitting stroke he seemed to misplace as well during his two-week stint on the disabled list last month.

The 22-year-old Dominican put up a .273/.299/.358 line in 74 games before his illness, not quite the .351 on-base percentage he flashed as a rookie last year, but still adequate production from the shortstop position.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Walker, Santiago face off in Twins' last home game

Walker, Santiago face off in Twins' last home game

With the Mariners still alive in the chase for an American League Wild Card spot, they'll turn to right-hander Taijuan Walker in the final game of a three-game series against the Twins on Sunday in the season finale at Target Field. Walker, who will start opposite lefty Hector Santiago, is looking to replicate his only previous outing at Target Field, when he threw a complete game and allowed just one hit -- a solo homer -- with one walk and 11 strikeouts on July 31 of last season.

Walker threw his first career shutout two starts ago against the Angels after revamping his delivery, but in his last start, he got hit in the right biceps by a line drive off the bat off Edwin Encarnacion in the first inning and then tweaked a troublesome right ankle fielding two bunts later in the game. But Walker said his ankle is good to go after receiving treatment and is excited to make one of the biggest starts of his career.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

Tiebreaker scenarios for Wild Card berths

As the 2016 season winds down the six divisions are pretty much decided. However, the two Wild Card races are completely up in the air, and there is a good chance we end up seeing at least one tiebreaker game played on Monday, Oct. 3.

With that in mind, here is a breakdown of the likeliest tiebreaker scenarios for the American and National League Wild Cards.

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Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Paxton sharp as Mariners erupt to keep pace

Paxton sharp as Mariners erupt to keep pace

MINNEAPOLIS -- Mariners lefty James Paxton took matters into his own hands on Friday with a powerful seven-inning outing, and he got plenty of help from his offense as Seattle topped the Twins, 10-1, to stay in pursuit of an American League Wild Card.

"This is what we need," Paxton said. "We need to win right now. Guys are playing hard, and we're just doing our best to stay right there and climb up in the Wild Card standings."

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Heart of lineup pounds away in blowout win

Cano, Cruz, Seager muscle up as Mariners surge past Twins

Heart of lineup pounds away in blowout win

MINNEAPOLIS -- If the Mariners are going to do damage down the stretch, they're going to need their stars to lead the way. And the big boys -- Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager -- certainly muscled up in a 10-1 win over the Twins on Friday as Seattle kicked off a critical season-ending road trip in fine fashion.

Cruz launched a tape-measure home run -- 454 feet, according to Statcast™'s projection -- and added a two-run double in a four-RBI night that would have been even bigger if not for Byron Buxton robbing him of a shot at the top of the wall in center on another monster mash.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Smith hitting September stride for Seattle

Outfielder batting .316 with 5 homers over 13-game stretch

Smith hitting September stride for Seattle

MINNEAPOLIS -- While much of the Mariners' offensive focus understandably circles around the heart-of-the-order trio of Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager, veteran right fielder Seth Smith has quietly been playing a key role in the stretch run.

Consistency is a hallmark of Smith's and he certainly has lived up to that this season. His .261/.349/.437 batting line is almost a mirror image of his 10-year career numbers of .262/.345/.450.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mariners suspend Clevenger for tweets

MINNEAPOLIS - As the Mariners arrived in the clubhouse prior to Friday's series-opening game against the Twins, some players gathered to watch a report on suspended teammate Steve Clevenger airing on the MLB Network on several overhead TVs.

But manager Scott Servais says he doesn't expect Clevenger's suspension, which came after the 30-year-old catcher wrote a pair of racially charged tweets on Thursday, would impact the club as it hits the homestretch of its playoff push.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mariners hire director of baseball operations

Hollander reunites with Dipoto after 9 seasons with Angels

MINNEAPOLIS -- Justin Hollander, the current director of player personnel with the Angels, has been hired as the Mariners' director of baseball operations, the club announced Friday.

Hollander, 37, has spent the past nine seasons in the Angels' front office and worked the previous four years with Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mariners realize urgency of remaining series

With narrow path to playoffs, Seattle ready to fight to the finish

Mariners realize urgency of remaining series

MINNEAPOLIS -- Ten games. One road trip. One homestand. And a chance.

That's what remains for the Mariners as they embark on their final trek of the season, with a three-game series against the Twins starting Friday, then three games at Houston and four final Safeco Field appearances against the A's.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Soccer star Jordan Morris uses hands for first pitch

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Soccer star Jordan Morris uses hands for first pitch

Jordan Morris plays soccer for the Seattle Sounders and the U.S. Men's National Team. With the USMNT in 2015, he scored the first goal by a college player in a quarter of a century, and he's been called "the next great United States soccer star" -- and, oh yeah, he's only 21 years old. So yes, he's quite good at soccer.

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Cano delivers in 12th for Wild walk-off vs. Jays

Cano delivers in 12th for Wild walk-off vs. Jays

SEATTLE -- Needing an ace performance to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Mariners got seven scoreless innings from Felix Hernandez on Wednesday and Robinson Cano drove in Guillermo Heredia with a walk-off sacrifice fly in the 12th as Seattle avoided being swept at Safeco Field with a dramatic 2-1 win over the Blue Jays.

A two-base throwing error on third baseman Josh Donaldson put Heredia on to open the 12th, and Heredia advanced when Donaldson dropped the ball as the Blue Jays tried to make a play at third on a sacrifice by Ben Gamel. That set up Cano for the game-winner off of R.A. Dickey, who entered in the 12th as Toronto's 10th pitcher of the day.

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Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Freeman's grab highlight for unexpected heroes

Vincent, Heredia also deliver in key victory for Mariners

Freeman's grab highlight for unexpected heroes

SEATTLE -- In a crucial game where the Mariners' big three of Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager were a combined 0-for-12 until Cano's game-winning sacrifice fly in the 12th inning, a number of lesser-known heroes stepped up to facilitate Wednesday's 2-1 win over the Blue Jays at Safeco Field.

There was Mike Freeman, a utility infielder who had one at-bat in four games as a September callup, making an outstanding diving catch to rob Kevin Pillar of the go-ahead RBI in the top of the 10th inning.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

King Felix silences invaders to his court

King Felix silences invaders to his court

SEATTLE -- The King's Court was the smallest Felix Hernandez had ever seen it. A sea of Toronto blue pushed it into just one small yellow triangle crammed behind the left-field foul pole. The King didn't like that.

"That was unbelievable," Hernandez said. "But you know what, it's still my house."

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Maddie Lee is a reporter for MLB.com based in Seattle. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mariners hope Cano gets rolling down stretch

Servais encouraged by 2nd baseman's past few games

Mariners hope Cano gets rolling down stretch

SEATTLE -- One thing that would clearly help the Mariners as they head down the stretch is getting Robinson Cano rolling again. Manager Scott Servais acknowledged that the second baseman's 2-for-4 game with a two-run triple in Tuesday's 10-2 loss to the Blue Jays at Safeco Field was one of the few positives out of that setback.

Cano has been outstanding this season, but he's hit a lull at a bad time, batting .185 with just two extra-base hits and three RBIs over the past 14 games entering Wednesday. The seven-time All-Star had a 1-for-21 stretch over five games prior to the Blue Jays series, so Servais was encouraged by a single and walk in Monday's loss, which also included a well-struck line drive with the bases loaded that was hauled down at the warning track.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mariners' small mistake paves way for Jays' big rally

Mariners' small mistake paves way for Jays' big rally

SEATTLE -- It all started innocently enough, with a misplayed popup by Mariners catcher Chris Iannetta, who overran a towering foul ball and was charged with an error when it dropped behind his outstretched glove as he tried to reach back at the last second.

But instead of two outs and nobody on the fourth with a two-run lead, Mariners pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma wound up giving up a single to right by Jose Bautista. And then the wheels came off as nine straight Blue Jays proceeded to reach base in an eight-run, eight-hit rally that knocked Iwakuma out of the game and wobbled the Mariners' postseason hopes with what turned into a 10-2 loss at Safeco Field.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mariners lose grip on Jays during 8-run fourth

Mariners lose grip on Jays during 8-run fourth

SEATTLE -- J.A. Happ became Toronto's first 20-game winner since 2008 on Tuesday night and delivered a blow to his former Mariners teammates' playoff chances in the process, while the Blue Jays smacked four home runs in a 10-2 runaway at Safeco Field.

Happ allowed two runs over five innings while striking out eight as he hiked his record to 20-4 with a 3.28 ERA, moving the Blue Jays into sole possession of the American League's top Wild Card spot, four games back of AL East-leading Boston at 83-68.

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Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mariners face unusual obstacle in Jays fans

Mariners face unusual obstacle in Jays fans

SEATTLE -- Lots of Blue Jays fans have annually made the trek south from Canada to see Toronto play in Seattle since the two teams entered the American League together in 1977, but the numbers swelled and the volume increased on Monday when the Mariners hosted their northern neighbors for the start of a key three-game series at Safeco Field.

From the moment the gates opened, through the Canadian national anthem that was sung at full roar by the visitors, through a 3-2 win that saw Marco Estrada throw six innings of no-hit ball, Blue Jays fans created a scene far rowdier than most Toronto home games at Rogers Centre.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Saunders on other side of Toronto-Seattle rivalry

Saunders on other side of Toronto-Seattle rivalry

SEATTLE -- Michael Saunders spent the first six years of his career with the Mariners, but whenever the Blue Jays came to town, it felt like a road game. Now he's getting a taste of what it's like on the other side of the spectrum.

Thousands of fans from Canada have descended upon Seattle this week for Toronto's crucial three-game series against the Mariners. It has become an annual tradition for people from British Columbia and other parts of the West Coast to invade Safeco Field in a sea of blue.

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Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mariners shuffle 2 Minor League affiliations

Arkansas replaces Jackson at Double-A; Modesto in, Bakersfield out in Class A

SEATTLE -- The Mariners will be fielding two new Minor League affiliates next year, as the club announced a two-year player development contract with the Arkansas Travelers in the Double-A Texas League and a four-year contract with the Modesto Nuts in the Class A Advanced California League on Tuesday.

The Mariners are purchasing a majority interest in the Modesto franchise, which replaces Bakersfield as their California League affiliate. Bakersfield folded its franchise at the conclusion of this season.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mariners' bats wake too late vs. Blue Jays

Mariners' bats wake too late vs. Blue Jays

SEATTLE -- Marco Estrada allowed one hit over seven-plus innings and Edwin Encarnacion supplied the punch with a two-run homer as the Blue Jays opened a critical three-game series at Safeco Field with a 3-2 victory over the Mariners on Monday night.

The win pulled the Blue Jays back into a tie with the Orioles for the two American League Wild Card spots, with both teams 82-68 after Baltimore lost to Boston, 5-2. Seattle fell three games back at 79-71, tied with Houston a half-game behind idle Detroit, with 12 games remaining.

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Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Walker turns in gutsy effort after early scare

Walker turns in gutsy effort after early scare

SEATTLE -- Taijuan Walker survived a line drive off his arm and worked around a gimpy ankle, but he couldn't quite overcome the Blue Jays on Monday night as the Mariners dropped a 3-2 decision in front of a raucous crowd at Safeco Field.

The 24-year-old wasn't as sharp as his last outing -- a complete-game three-hitter against the Angels -- but he battled the Blue Jays tough and kept his team in the game despite some difficult circumstances.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Unselfish Cishek shining in setup role

Unselfish Cishek shining in setup role

SEATTLE -- With two outs in the eighth and the Astros putting runners on second and third after cutting the Mariners' lead to 7-3 on Sunday, Seattle manager Scott Servais didn't hesitate in going to his bullpen to fetch former closer Steve Cishek to face the troublesome Jose Altuve.

After two quick strikes, Altuve grounded out to third, Servais turned the game over to rookie closer Edwin Diaz in the ninth, and the Mariners had another crucial win. And Cishek got another quiet pat on the back from his skipper.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

2 homers from Smith help Mariners in WC chase

2 homers from Smith help Mariners in WC chase

SEATTLE -- Seth Smith revived the Mariners' offense -- not to mention their postseason aspirations -- with two home runs and four RBIs and southpaw Ariel Miranda did the rest as Seattle salvaged the final game of its series against the Astros with a 7-3 win on Sunday at Safeco Field.

Smith's second multihomer game of the season helped Seattle snap a two-game skid and lifted the Mariners to two games back of the Blue Jays in the race for the American League's second Wild Card berth. Seattle and Detroit remain tied for the spot immediately behind the Wild Card leaders at 79-70 with 13 games remaining.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Miranda more than holding his own as rookie

Left-hander playing big role in Seattle's postseason push

Miranda more than holding his own as rookie

SEATTLE-- Ariel Miranda is hitting his stride at the perfect time for the Mariners. The rookie left-hander extended his winning streak to four games in Seattle's 7-3 victory over the Astros on Sunday.

"He believes in himself," manager Scott Servais said. "And I think that's half the battle. At this level you have to believe you belong and that you can contribute on a winning team, and that's what he's doing right now."

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Maddie Lee is a reporter for MLB.com based in Seattle. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Success in bigs changes plans for Altavilla

Mariners prospect will no longer pitch in Fall League due to workload

Success in bigs changes plans for Altavilla

SEATTLE -- He made the jump from Double-A Jackson to the Majors during the season, throws heat in the upper 90s and has been a big contributor to the Mariners' bullpen already as a rookie. But, no, we're not talking about closer Edwin Diaz this time.

Dan Altavilla, a stocky 24-year-old from Pennsylvania, has made his own mark on the Mariners in his short time since getting the call up in late August, with a 1.29 ERA in nine appearances and enough presence to already be getting some use in late-inning situations.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mariners drop second straight to Astros

Mariners drop second straight to Astros

SEATTLE -- Thanks to a strong outing by Mike Fiers and a timely hit by Yulieski Gurriel, the Astros elevated themselves back into the thick of the American League Wild Card chase on Saturday with a 2-1 victory over the Mariners at Safeco Field.

Fiers fired six scoreless innings of three-hit ball and Gurriel laced a two-run single off Mariners lefty James Paxton in the sixth as Houston won its third straight game and pulled into a three-way tie with Seattle and Detroit at 78-70, three games back of the Orioles and Blue Jays, the Wild Card leaders.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Paxton's gem deserves better fate

Paxton's gem deserves better fate

SEATTLE -- It's tough to see an L next to a performance like James Paxton's against the Astros on Saturday night.

"He was aggressive, he was ahead in the count and he was in control," manager Scott Servais said.

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Maddie Lee is a reporter for MLB.com based in Seattle. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.