Mariners' Paxton will bring his 'Eh game' against Detroit Tigers

Ryan Ford
Detroit Free Press
Mariners starting pitcher James Paxton celebrates after throwing a no-hitter against the Blue Jays on Tuesday in Toronto.

Seattle Mariners pitcher James Paxton made history on Tuesday night when he threw a no-hitter against the Blue Jays in Toronto. Paxton is the 299th pitcher in MLB history to throw a complete-game no-hitter, and the 256th to do so in baseball’s modern age (since the start of the 1901 season). Paxton is set to make his next start Sunday, against the Tigers. Free Press sports writer Ryan Ford takes a look at the Canadian left-hander:

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James Paxton throws to a Blue Jays batter during the ninth inning Tuesday.

By the numbers

A look at Paxton’s numbers this season:

Record: 2-1

Innings: 47 2/3

Hits: 35

Walks: 19

Strikeouts: 67

ERA: 3.40

WHIP: 1.133

WAR: 1.4

Mariners starter James Paxton shows off his Maple Leaf tattoo after pitching a no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday.

Five to grow on

Five things to know about Paxton:

Agent of change: Paxton, who pitched for three seasons at Kentucky, was originally a first-round draft pick of the Blue Jays, the team he no-hit on Tuesday. But negotiations broke down, and the bitter Jays alleged Paxton had used Scott Boras as an agent, rather than as an advisor, as the NCAA allows. The allegation cost Paxton his final year of eligibility at Kentucky and he spent a year playing independent ball before getting drafted by the Mariners in the fourth round. 

The handler for an American eagle that was to fly to the pitcher's mound during the national anthem, comforts Mariners starting pitcher James Paxton, a Canadian, after the eagle chose to land on his shoulder instead at Target Field in Minneapolis on April 5.

Eagle scout: Video of Paxton went viral in April when a bald eagle attempted to land on his shoulder during a pre-game ceremony in Minnesota. 

Better Be-leaf-it: Paxton is close to his Canadian roots. Mariners fans nicknamed him "The Big Maple" a few years back, and he has a giant maple leaf tattooed on his right arm, which he proudly displayed after completing his no-hitter.

A study in efficiency: He needed just 99 pitchers to finish the no-hitter and complete game (the first of his career). He's just the 12th pitcher in the past 30 years to throw a no-no in less than 100 pitches.

Warming up: The no-no was about the only way he could improve upon his previous start, in which he struck out 16 Athletics in seven innings. He's just the eighth pitcher in MLB history with a no-hitter and a 16-strikeout game in the same season. The last to do it? Max Scherzer, in 2015. Scherzer also threw a second no-no that season.

Philadelphia Athletics pitcher Dick Fowler in June of 1942.

International flavor

With his no-hitter, Paxton became the second Canadian in MLB history to throw a complete-game no-hitter. (The Athletics’ Dick Fowler was the first, back in 1945.) Since the start of the 1908 season, there have been 25 no-hitters thrown by players born outside of the 50 U.S. states. The breakdown by country:

Dominican Republic: 7

The pitchers: Edinson Volquez, Ervin Santana, Francisco Liriano, Ubaldo Jimenez, Jose Jimenez. Ramon Martinez, Juan Marichal.

Venezuela: 6

The pitchers: Henderson Alvarez, Felix Hernandez, Johan Santana, Carlos Zambrano, Anibal Sanchez, Wilson Alvarez.

Japan: 3

The pitchers: Hisashi Iwakuma, Hideo Nomo (2).

Puerto Rico: 2

The pitchers: Jonathan Sanchez, Juan Nieves.

Canada: 2

The pitchers: James Paxton, Dick Fowler.

France: 1

The pitcher: Charlie Lea.

Germany: 1

The pitcher: Edwin Jackson.

Mexico: 1

The pitcher: Fernando Valenzuela.

Netherlands: 1

The pitcher: Bert Blyleven.

Nicaragua: 1

The pitcher: Dennis Martinez.

The Detroit Free Press sports front the day after Justin Verlander no-hit the Blue Jays in 2011.

No, Canada

Paxton’s no-no was the first one thrown by a Canadian in Canada, but not the first one on Canadian soil. The six pitchers to throw a no-hitter in Canada:

Oct. 2, 1972: Bill Stoneman

The score: Expos 7, Phillies 0

May 10, 1981: Charlie Lea

The score: Expos 4, Giants 0

June 29, 1990: Dave Stewart

The score: Athletics 5, Blue Jays 0

May 23, 1991: Tommy Greene

The score: Phillies, 2, Expos 0

May 7, 2011: Justin Verlander

The score: Tigers 9, Blue Jays 0

May 8, 2018: James Paxton

The score: Mariners 5, Blue Jays 0

Ferguson Jenkins.

Northern exposure

Paxton isn’t the only Canadian to excel in the majors. A look at five of the top Canadians all-time in MLB:

Ferguson Jenkins

1965-83: The only Canadian in the Baseball Hall of Fame, Jenkins went 284-226 for four teams over 19 seasons with a 3.34 ERA and 3,192 strikeouts.

Eric Gagne

1999-2008: The hard-throwing reliever lasted just 10 seasons, but made three All-Star teams. He still holds the record for the most consecutive saves, with 84.

Joey Votto

2007-present: Votto has made five All-Star squads while playing for Cincinnati. He entered Friday with a career .313 batting average and a .538 slugging percentage.

Larry Walker

1989-2005: Walker also made five All-Star squads and won the 1997 NL MVP award. He’s up to 34.1 percent of the ballot in Hall of Fame voting.

Justin Morneau

2003-16: The longtime Twin won the 2006 AL MVP award, made the All-Star team the next four seasons, and led the NL in batting at age 33 with the Rockies.

Detroit Tigers pitcher Virgil (Fire) Trucks threw two no-hitters during the 1952 season.

Double trouble

Paxton now has a shot at becoming the seventh pitcher with two no-hitters in a single year. The pitchers who've done it:

1938: Johnny Vander Meer, Reds
1951: Allie Reynolds, Yankees
1952: Virgil Trucks, Tigers
1973: Nolan Ryan, Angels
2010: Roy Halladay, Phillies*
2015: Max Scherzer, Nationals

*Second no-hitter was in the playoffs