Catcher Mike Zunino said James Paxton looked like "he didn’t miss a beat" in returning Wednesday to the Mariners’ rotation after a 29-day absence because of a strained forearm muscle. Manager Scott Servais said Paxton has "turned into a top-of-the-rotation stud."
Paxton said, simply, that he’s healthy after pitching 5 1/3 innings before the bullpen closed out a 5-0 victory over the Colorado Rockies at Safeco Field. He permitted three hits, all singles, while striking out six and walking none.
"Felt great," he said. "It’s good to be back out there."
The Mariners couldn’t agree more after stretching their winning streak to four games with a fourth straight balanced attack. Every player except Robinson Cano reached base safely at least once.
As Servais put it: "It’s nice to win the game 5-0 when Robby Cano doesn’t do much offensively because he’ll get his."
The four-game split series against Colorado concludes at 12:40 p.m. Thursday at Safeco Field. Right-hander Yovani Gallardo (2-5 with a 5.76 ERA) will face Rockies rookie left-hander Kyle Freeland (5-3 and 3.43).
Three takeaways from Wednesday’s victory:
***Paxton in top form: The Mariners weren’t sure of what the expect from Paxton after an extended absence. He delivered his fifth scoreless outing in seven starts in lowing his ERA to 1.26.
"Dominant starting pitching does so much for your team.," Servais said. "It just lifts everybody’s spirits. Guys, offensively, relax and have good at-bats."
***Seager stays hot: Third baseman Kyle Seager continued his recent surge by going 2-for-4, including a single that fueled a three-run second inning against Colorado starter Antonio Senzatela, who brought a 7-1 record into the game.
Seager has hits in 10 of his last 11 games and is batting .357 in that span.
"When Seager starts hitting," Servais said, "we are a different team."
***Cishek chips in: The Rockies had one chance to climb back into the game. Trailing 4-0 in the sixth, they put runners at first and second with one out on singles by Tony Wolters and Charlie Blackmon.
The Mariners replaced Paxton at that point with one-time closer Steve Cishek, who is still returning to form after undergoing surgery last October to repair a torn labrum in his left hip.
Cishek squelched the threat by retiring D.J. LeMahieu and Nolan Arenado on popups before working a one-two-three seventh inning. It was, easily, Cishek’s best outing since returning May 15 from the disabled list.
"I feel that with every few days," he said, "the ball is just coming out a little livelier than it was when I first came back."
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners