Starter James Paxton #65 of the Seattle Mariners pitches in the third inning against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Opening Day at Safeco Field on April 8, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
After falling behind early, Corey Hart hit two home runs to lead the Mariners to a 5-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night.
The one item keeping the night from being all smiles is the health of starter James Paxton.
Paxton left the game in the sixth inning with a strained lat muscle. He is expected to get an MRI early Wednesday afternoon to determine the severity of the injury.
"He has a slight lat strain," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "They will do an MRI tomorrow and we'll know more at that time.
Paxton said he first felt it during the final batter of the fifth inning. He told McClendon about it in the dugout between innings but thought he would be fine. After throwing a couple cutters, Paxton said he felt it again on a fastball to Mike Trout.
McClendon saw Paxton shaking his arm and went to check him out and ultimately took him out of the game.
"It kind of alarmed me a little bit. I knew something was up," McClendon said.
Paxton said he didn't feel any true pain from the incident and said it was more just a matter of it not feeling right.
"I just felt a little tweak. I want to be careful with it. It's just a little left lat strain, I think," Paxton said.
The trainers told him his strength is still good and he doesn't anticipate the issue being anything serious.
"I don't think it's going to be a big deal. It's not a real pain, just a little soreness," Paxton said.
Paxton gave up two home runs in the first inning - one to Albert Pujols, the second to David Freese - before settling in. He admitted he was a little amped up for the game and left a couple pitches up in the zone that the Angels made him pay for in taking an early 3-0 lead.
After the Freese home run, Paxton retired the next 14 batters in a row before giving up a single to Kole Calhoun before exiting the game in the next at-bat to Trout.
Paxton still earned the win to move to 2-0 on the year. He allowed just the three runs from the first inning on four hits with three walks and six strikeouts.
If Paxton is unable to make his next start, the Mariners may have to bring an arm up from Triple-A Tacoma to make a spot start until Hisashi Iwakuma or Taijuan Walker can return to the rotation from their rehab stints.