SEATTLE -- The decision to demote left-handed pitcher James Paxton on Wednesday, one day after he threw 6 2/3 shutout innings to improve his season record to 4-1, caused a collective gasp among Seattle Mariners fans. However, the explanation makes it possible to breathe a little easier.
The rookie southpaw's next scheduled start isn't until Sept. 2. The Sept. 1 roster expansion voids the obligatory 10-day waiting period before players can be recalled, so Paxton probably will be back in Seattle by the weekend.
In effect, Paxton is being sent to Triple-A Tacoma without ever having to pitch there.
The Mariners needed a spot on their 25-man roster for Wednesday's starter, Erasmo Ramirez, who was promoted for his third spot start in just over a month. Ramirez got blown up for 10 earned runs off nine hits while lasting just three innings in a 12-4 loss to the Texas Rangers.
Ramirez might be called upon again to make a spot start at some point this season, but the more likely scenario is that he will be used as a long reliever after the Sept. 1 call-ups.
Seattle has four solid starters: Felix Hernandez, Chris Young, Hisashi Iwakuma and Paxton. No. 5 starter Roenis Elias struggled recently, leaving the Mariners with a pretty big question mark after the top four. Ramirez has been used to give the other rotation members extra days of rest.
STREAK: Lost one
NEXT: Friday -- Nationals (RHP Jordan Zimmermann, 9-5, 2.93 ERA) at Mariners (RHP Felix Hernandez, 13-4, 2.07 ERA)
--RHP Erasmo Ramirez's latest spot start was nothing short of a disaster. He gave up 10 runs on nine hits over three innings Wednesday against Texas after he was called up from Triple-A Tacoma before the game. His ERA swelled to 5.21 in the process.
--LHP James Paxton was demoted to Triple-A Tacoma before Wednesday's game, but the move is unlikely to affect his next start. Paxton can be part of the Sept. 1 call-ups, meaning he will be available for his next scheduled start early next week. Paxton was coming off a 6 2/3-inning performance that saw him allow just four hits without giving up a run in a 5-0 win over Texas. Over the first 11 starts of his career, Paxton is 7-1 with a 1.71 ERA. Only Steve Rogers (7-3, 1.28 ERA in 1973) and Phil Niekro (8-3, 1.20 ERA) had seven wins and lower ERAs after their first 11 starts in major league history.
--2B Robinson Cano got an off day in the field Wednesday, when he served as the designated hitter. Cano went 1-for-4 and scored once.
--DH Kendrys Morales got a rare start at first base Wednesday, and he went 1-for-4 with a two-run double in the sixth. Morales has started at first seven times since being dealt from Minnesota; the Mariners are 2-5 in those games.
--C Mike Zunino hit his 19th home run of the season Wednesday, matching Miguel Olivo's club record for home runs in a season by a catcher. Olivo hit 19 in 2011.
--RHP Felix Hernandez had his latest start moved back two days, from Wednesday to Friday, and he will start the series opener against Washington. Manager Lloyd McClendon pushed Hernandez back on multiple occasions this season, mostly to cut down on the ace's innings but also to use him in opening games of big series. Rather than pitch Hernandez against the struggling Texas Rangers on Wednesday, McClendon opted to throw him against the red-hot Nationals.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "That game's over with. We got our butts kicked. It happens." -- Manager Lloyd McClendon, after the Mariners' 12-4 loss to the Texas Rangers on Wednesday.
--RF Chris Denorfia (neck stiffness) did not play Aug. 26-27.
--RF Michael Saunders (strained left oblique) went on the 15-day disabled list July 11. He began a rehab assignment at Triple-A Tacoma on Aug. 7. He took a few days off when his wife gave birth in Colorado, then resumed his rehab assignment Aug. 15. He was out sick Aug. 22, and he had not resumed playing through Aug. 27.
--INF Willie Bloomquist (right knee contusion) went on the 15-day disabled list July 24. He underwent season-ending arthroscopic surgery Aug. 8.
--DH Corey Hart (bruised right knee) went on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 2. He began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma on Aug. 23.
RHP Felix Hernandez
RHP Chris Young
RHP Hisashi Iwakuma
LHP Roenis Elias
RHP Erasmo Ramirez
RHP Fernando Rodney (closer)
RHP Danny Farquhar
LHP Charlie Furbush
RHP Tom Wilhelmsen
RHP Brandon Maurer
RHP Yoervis Medina
LHP Joe Beimel
RHP Dominic Leone
1B Logan Morrison
2B Robinson Cano
SS Brad Miller
3B Kyle Seager
DH Kendrys Morales
INF Chris Taylor
LF Dustin Ackley
CF Austin Jackson
RF Chris Denorfia
OF Endy Chavez
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