Finally, the Mariners have someone exiting rather than entering the disabled list.
Left-hander James Paxton will be activated at some point Wednesday in order to start later that night against the Colorado Rockies as the Mariners open an 11-game homestand at Safeco Field.
The Mariners cleared space for Paxton on their 25-man roster by optioning reliever Ryne Harper to Triple-A Tacoma after Tuesday’s 10-4 victory over the Rockies in Denver.
Paxton was the Mariners’ best pitcher through the season’s first month in going 3-0 with a 1.43 ERA over six starts before a strained forearm muscle forced him to the disabled list after a May 2 outing against the Los Angeles Angels.
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But he’s been gone four weeks.
"I think we need to be realistic on what the expectations are for Paxton," manager Scott Servais said. "It might be five innings. It might be six innings. We’ll see where the pitch count is at.
"It’s more inning by inning when you get into that range. We’ll judge it on how he’s doing and how he’s feeling. Sometimes, the hitters let you know, too."
Paxton tuned up for his return by pitching four innings on May 26 for Double-A Arkansas against Frisco (Rangers). He allowed two runs and five hits while striking out five and walking none.
After throwing 55 pitches in the game, Paxton went to the bullpen and threw 10 more. That positions him to throw roughly 80 pitches in his return to active duty.
"I moved the ball around a little bit," he said. "Threw some breaking balls for strikes. Recovered really well. I’m ready to go. On target and ready to roll."
***The pitching matchup is Paxton against Colorado rookie right-hander Antonio Senzatela (7-1 with a 3.19 ERA). The game starts at 7:10 p.m. and can be seen on Root Sports Northwest.
***Paxton’s only previous outing against the Rockies came in 2015, when he was also coming off the disabled list. He gave up three runs in three innings on Sept. 13 after missing three months because of a strained tendon in his middle finger.
***Senzatela is one of the Rockies’ young guns. He made just seven starts last season at Double-A Hartford before a shoulder injury ended his season.
***Designated hitter Nelson Cruz exited Tuesday game in the second inning because of tightness in his right calf. He is expected to play tonight. Cruz holds a big early lead in early balloting to determine the American League's starting designated hitter in the All-Star Game.
***Losing the last two games to the Mariners knocked Colorado out of first place in the National League West Division. At 33-21, the Rockies trail the Los Angeles Dodgers (33-20) by one-half game.
***The Mariners scored 10 runs on Tuesday — or one more than in a 1-7 skid from May 19-27.
***The Mariners had a season-high 19 hits in Tuesday’s victory. Their previous high was 16 on five occasions, including Sunday in a 5-0 victory at Boston.
***Shortstop Jean Segura had the first of those 19 hits when he opened the game with a single. He is 16-for-37 (.432) while leading off a game with two walks and twice getting hit by pitches. His on-base percentage is .488.
***The Rockies have the National League’s best road record at 18-8.
***Even after winning three straight games, the Mariners trail first-place Houston by 13 games in the American League West. The Mariners haven’t been farther from first place since Sept. 25, 2014, when they trailed the Angels by 14 games.
***The Mariners hold a 21-15 all-time lead in their series against the Rockies, including 10-7 at home.
It was 18 years ago Wednesday — May 31, 1999 — that the Mariners hit four home runs in a 10-6 victory over Baltimore at the Kingdome and set one MLB record and tied another.
The four homers gave them 100 through 50 games, which marked the earliest point in the season for a club to reach triple figures. They also finished May with 58 homers, which tied a record for the most by a club in a single month.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners