There are conundrums. Then there is the dominance of Hector Noesi over the Mariners. An undistinguished Seattle pitcher for parts of three seasons, he has stymied his former teammates in two starts this season despite carrying a career 5.32 ERA into Saturday’s start.
After holding Seattle (61-55) to one unearned run over 7.1 innings in a 2-1, 10-inning White Sox win, Noesi has yet to allow an earned run to Seattle in 14 innngs. Quite a contrast for a pitcher who was 8-20 with a 75 ERA+ in 39 career starts (100 ERA+ is league average).
Seattle’s lone run came in the fourth inning thanks to a throwing error by second baseman Gordon Beckham on a softly hit ground ball by Robinson Cano. It extended the inning and broke up Noesi’s perfect-game bid. Two batters later, Kyle Seager hit an RBI double to right.
“Noesi’s been tough on us for some reason. We haven’t been able to figure him out,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “We were better (than last time against Noesi). We hit into some double plays tonight. Just couldn’t get a big hit to get us over the hump.”
Instead, the big hit came from White Sox third baseman Conor Gillaspie in the 10th inning of a 1-1 game. Gillaspie delivered a two-out single off Fernando Rodney to give Chicago the go-ahead run.
Gillaspie’s opportunity was because of an error by Seattle shortstop Chris Taylor on a routine ground ball off the bat of Gordon Beckham. The misplay allowed Jordan Danks to advance to third base before scoring the winning run.
The error was Taylor’s third since making his major-league debut with the July 24. It also came after a couple of fine plays earlier in the game. McClendon said he made sure to tell Taylor to shrug it off.
“I told him, ‘If he’s lucky enough to play this game a long time, he’ll make a lot more of those errors,'” McClendon said. “That’s just the way it goes.”
Saturday’s loss snapped a modest four-game winning streak for the Mariners, who closed to a half-game in the race for the second wild card in the American League.
The loss put them back to 1.5 games behind the Royals on a night the team inducted former manager Lou Piniella into its Hall of Fame, and also spoiled an impressive second start since returning from the disabled list for James Paxton. The 25-year-old rookie pitched 6.1 innings and allowed one run on six hits and struck out four.
Paxton (2-0, 2.38 ERA) made his return against the Orioles last Saturday. Over 4.1 innings, Paxton was understandably rusty and a little overanxious. He showed improvement Saturday as he retired the first 10 batters he faced.
Alejandro De Aza broke up the perfect game with a swinging bunt that traveled 20 feet up the first-base line and afforded catcher Mike Zunino no play. Paxton responded to get Jose Abreu to bounce into an inning-ending double play.
Paxton escaped a jam in the fifth inning with a second double play after Alexei Ramirez and Paul Konerko reached base with a pair of singles. Through six innings, Paxton yielded a mere three hits while holding a 1-0 lead.
The end came abruptly in the seventh.
Abreu led off with a double down the right field line and scored the tying run on Ramirez’s one-out double. Though Paxton had 77 pitches, McClendon opted to bring in reliever Brandon Maurer.
“He threw the ball well,” McClendon said. “Elevated (the ball) a little bit in the sixth inning. Probably fatigued a little bit, but he did a very nice job for us
RHP Erasmo Ramirez (1-5, 4.35 ERA) will start Sunday. Ramirez last started July 22 against the Mets, when he gave up two runs on five hits in seven innings . . . Seattle entered Saturday’s game with the lowest team ERA (3.02) in the majors. It is on pace to best the club record 3.54 ERA set in 2001 . . . Logan Morrison extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a single in the 10th inning . . . The Mariners optioned LHP Lucas Luetge to Triple-A Tacoma after the game . . . Saturday’s loss was Seattle’s 14th in its last at-bat.
Noesi is on his way to becoming the new Gil Meche. Underachieving Mariner pitcher, very successful starting pitcher for another team.