This Day In Sports: Ideal place for Paxton’s career highlight

May 8, 2018, five years ago today: For the first time in big league history, a no-hitter in Canada is thrown by a Canadian. The Seattle Mariners’ James Paxton, a 29-year-old lefthander from Ladner, BC, shut down the Blue Jays 5-0 at Rogers Centre in Toronto. Paxton threw only 99 pitches and was still clocking 100 miles per hour at the end, when his final pitch induced a groundout from former Boise Hawk Josh Donaldson. After the game Paxton showed off a huge Maple Leaf tattoo on his right forearm (hence his nickname, the “Big Maple”).

It was third no-hitter of the season in the majors—in three different countries. Four days earlier, four L.A. Dodgers pitchers had combined to no-hit the San Diego Padres in Monterrey, Mexico. Paxton became the second Canadian-born player to throw a no-hitter, joining Dick Fowler of the Philadelphia A’s in 1945. That one obviously didn’t happen on Canadian soil. The Montreal Expos didn’t debut in the National League until 1969, and Toronto’s first year was 1977 (same as the Mariners).

Paxton had never even thrown a complete game before the no-hit gem, but he came into the game with signs of things coming together. He had struck out 16 batters in his previous outing, taking a no-decision in the Mariners’ 3-2 loss to Oakland. Paxton joined Randy Johnson (1990), Chris Bosio (1993), Felix Hernandez (perfect game in 2012) and Hisashi Iwakuma (2015) as the only pitchers in Seattle history to throw a no-hitter. The M’s also had six pitchers combine for a no-hitter in 2012.

Paxton went 11-6 with a 3.76 ERA in 2018 and was traded to the New York Yankees after the season. With the Yanks he posted a career-best 15-6 record in 2019 but made only five appearances in 2020 due to a spinal injury. Paxton returned to the Mariners two years ago but made just one start, leaving after just 1 1/3 innings with left elbow discomfort. That morphed into Tommy John surgery. He has not pitched since, although technically he is still active with the Boston Red Sox. Paxton is currently on the injured list with a right hamstring strain. Here’s hoping it’s not over for the 34-year-old southpaw.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)

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