Former Kentucky star James Paxton threw a no-hitter on Tuesday night for the Seattle Mariners against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Ten things about Paxton and the non-no:
1. It was the second straight standout start for Paxton. Last Wednesday, he struck out 16 Oakland A's over seven innings at Safeco Field. That tied the record for most strikeouts in a game this season. So over last two starts, Paxton has allowed five hits and zero runs over 16 innings while walking four and striking out 23.
2. Paxton's gem is the third no-hitter in Major League Baseball already this season. Oakland's Sean Sean Manea no-hit Boston 3-0 on April 21, 2018. On May 4, four Los Angeles Dodgers' pitchers, including former Henry Clay star Walker Buehler, combined to no-hit San Diego 4-0.
Jon Tayler writes for SI.com, "Consider that, entering Tuesday’s action, the league as a whole was hitting just .244 this season. That mark ties for sixth lowest in a season of play since 1871, and in the 20th century, only 1908, ‘67 and ‘68 have been worse. The league’s strikeout percentage of 22.7, meanwhile, is its highest ever, topping the previous record of 21.6 set … last year, which in turn broke the 21.1 mark set … the year before. In fact, a new strikeout rate record has been set every single year since 2008. As strikeouts go up, contact has gone down: According to FanGraphs, the league’s swinging-strike rate of 10.7% is the highest on record since 2002, when that stat was first tracked, narrowly edging out last year’s previous champion of 10.5."
3. Paxton only needed 99 pitches to record his 27 outs. According to Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports, there have been 75 no-hitters since MLB began tracking pitching counts in the late 1980s. Only 12 of those have been completed using less than 100 pitches.
4. Paxton accomplished the feat in his home country. The 29-year-old is a native Canadian. In fact, he has a tattoo of a Maple Leaf on his right forearm. His nickname is Big Maple. Paxton was born in British Columbia. So to do it at Toronto was a special treat. "Of all places, here in Toronto, it's pretty amazing," he said. "The fans were giving me some trouble in the seventh inning, but once I got post that they started kind of cheering me on. It was cool." The only other Canadian to throw a no-hitter was Dick Fowler of the Philadelphia Athletics in 1945.
5. The NCAA ruled Paxton ineligible for his senior season at UK. In 2007, he appeared in 25 games as a freshman with a 2-0 record. His sophomore season, Paxton earned a spot in the starting rotation and went 4-2 with a 2.92 ERA. As a junior, Paxton went 5-3 with 115 strikeouts. He was drafted 37th overall in the MLB Draft by Toronto, but opted to return to UK for his senior season. Unfortunately, the NCAA ruled him ineligible for contact with agent Scott Boras.
6. Paxton's strength is his high fastball. According to Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs, Paxton has "one simple trick for absolute dominance. Sullivan on Paxton's 16 Ks against Oakland last week, "On Wednesday, he elevated like he hadn’t before, and the A’s just whiffed and whiffed and whiffed. And when you look at Paxton’s history — well, this heat map probably speaks for itself. This represents Paxton ever since he debuted in the majors. You’re seeing whiff rates, by location, against fastballs and only fastballs."
7. Paxton's next-to-last pitch against Toronto on Tuesday night hit 100 miles per hour. According to Dave Schoenfield of ESPN, that's the fastest pitch Paxton has thrown all season.
8. Paxton was attacked by a bald eagle earlier this season.. For their home opener, the Minnesota Twins had a bald eagle fly into Target Field. The eagle mistook Paxton, who was standing in the outfield, for its owner and tried to land on his shoulder. Paxton remained markedly cool throughout, however, and the bird realized its mistake.
On Twitter Zack Pierce posted a GIF of the scene with the caption, "I hereby grant you magical powers."
9. Paxton is now 32-21 lifetime in Major League Baseball. The 6-foot-4, 235-pounder has a career 3.30 ERA. The left-hander is 2-1 this season with a 3.40 ERA over 47.2 innings in eight starts. His best season to date was last season when Paxton went 12-5 with a 2.98 ERA over 24 starts. He struck out 156 batters in 136 innings.
10. Paxton now shares something in common with Nolan Ryan. From Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times, "According to Stats Inc., Paxton is the first American League pitcher to record a 16-strikeout game and a no-hitter in the same season since Nolan Ryan accomplished the feat for the Texas Rangers in the same game on May 1, 1991 -- against the Toronto Blue Jays."