It was pretty. And then it wasn’t pretty.

James Paxton dealt for six-plus innings and Robinson Cano hit a three-run home run in the top of the eighth inning to hand the Seattle Mariners a 5-1 lead.

Nick Vincent wasn’t his usual sharp self, but Marc Rzepczynski (calm down, I spelled it correctly) and Edwin Diaz finished off the Halos to secure the win.

The Mariners (41-42) picked up a game on the Twins, Rays and Rangers — as well as the Angels — and kept pace with other winners such as the Royals.

The Mariners stretch leading up to the All-Star break is crucial (KCx3, OAKx4) and a big series win in Anaheim could go a long way.

NY Yankees 43-37 +2.0 TOR
Tampa Bay 43-41 @CHC
Kansas City 41-40 0.5 S@EA
Minnesota 41-40 0.5 LAA
LA Angels 43-43 1.0 @TB
Seattle 41-42 1.5 KC

Biggest Stat of the Day

There are actually two today; First, Paxton pounded the strike zone from the get-go, catching the zone or inducing swings on 55 of 87 pitches, which for a power pitcher is outstanding.  He didn’t unduce a lot of swings and misses, but his fastball was thrown with enough command to keep the Angels from generate loft, which meant a lot of ground ball outs.

Second, Jean Segura was more of a traditional leadoff man Sunday than is typically his style. Not only did he drive in two runs and get on base four times, he saw 31 pitches in five plate appearances, 23 versus Chavez in his first three trips to the batter’s box. This set the tone early and forced Mike Scioscia to go to one extra reliever — in this case Kenyan Middleton — than is ideal for the Angels.

Middle served up Cano’s three-run shot in the eighth.

Speaking of Cano’s 17th long ball (102 mph), here it is, a 1-1 fastball from Middleton (95.9 mph):


Mike Zunino clearly is working on hitting fastball middle-away up the middle and to right-center field. Several of his swings in Anaheim have been of this variety.

We haven’t seen a lot of results yet, but this is a terrific sign that he’s not only willing to make changes, but that he’s not altering his improved  (to acceptable levels) pitch selection and discipline while attempting to do more when he’s pitched away…

Boog Powell has had several quality at-bats in the majors despite a low batting average through his small sample. He’s never going to hit for power but he knows what he is and what he isn’t and controls the strike zone well.

Powell is fully capable of the fourth outfielder role, offering contact, speed and defense. He’s basically the left-handed version of Guillermo Heredia, though Heredia has a swing more condusive to extra-base hits…

The Mariners have signed five international prospects Sunday, including two of the top 20-25 or so. Julio Rodriguez a big, athletic outfielder out the Dominican Republic, is the top prize ($1.75 million).

I’ll have a wrap on those five, plus a full Mid-season Prospect Rankings that includes the July 2 prospects Tuesday night…

Edwin Diaz’s four-out save was a nice — and critical — bounceback after two poor outings versus the Phillies. I still worry Diaz isn’t the consistent arm the Mariners need as their relief ace but there’s no arguing the raw stuff. His delivery is as volatile as his results, and typically the two are related.

The answer might be to use Diaz for more than an inning, when possible. He spent the first three years of his pro career as a starter and often it takes such a pitcher 3-5 batters to settle. Just a thought.

The right-hander looked great in Sunday’s outing, however, throwing 13 of 19 pitches for strikes, whiffing two and not allowing a batter to reach base.

Jason A. Churchill

Churchill founded Prospect Insider in 2006 after getting his start at He spent several years covering prep, college and pro sports for various newspapers, including The News Tribune and Seattle PI.

Jason spent 4 1/2 years at ESPN and two years at CBS Radio prior to joining HERO Sports in July, 2016.

Find Jason's Mariners podcast, Baseball Things, right here and follow him on Twitter @ProspectInsider.