James Paxton woke up Saturday morning to a text message from his father and the news that his grandfather, Lawrie, had unexpectedly passed away. Suddenly Paxton's first major league start for the Seattle Mariners took on more personal meaning.
"That wasn't easy. A very close family and he was kind of the glue," said Paxton, who pitched in college for Kentucky. "So it was great my family could make it down here tonight to watch me pitch and I know he was up there watching also.
"It was really special to get this one tonight for him."
Paxton (1-0) threw six strong innings and allowed just one earned run to earn the victory in his debut. The Mariners defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 6-2.
"Early on I was a little amped up, but I felt I got in a groove and was able to narrow my focus," Paxton said. "It was just another baseball game, just a nicer stadium." Albers solid for Twins
Former University of Kentucky pitcher Andrew Albers pitched seven shutout innings but ended up with no decision in the Minnesota Twins' 2-0 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday at Minneapolis.
The rookie scattered four hits with no walks and had a season-high five strikeouts.
"I got away with a few pitches today. Sometimes that happens," Albers said. "But for the most part I was able to keep the ball down and over the plate today. It's a fine line in baseball. It's an inch or two here and there. Guys are working hard, it just unfortunately isn't happening for us right now."
Albers (2-2) improved his ERA to 3.35 in 452⁄3 innings over seven starts.