Mariners left-hander James Paxton has yet to lose a Major League start, but he'll face a tough matchup in veteran southpaw Cole Hamels when Seattle wraps up a three-game Interleague series with the Phillies in the rubber game on Wednesday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.
Paxton is 3-0 with a 2.20 ERA in five starts this season. In nine career starts, the 25-year-old is 6-0 with a 1.88 ERA, 0.930 WHIP and .189 batting average against, but he missed nearly four months this season with shoulder issues and will be making just his fourth start since returning from the 60-day disabled list on Aug. 2.
Paxton beat the Tigers in his last outing in Detroit, allowing five hits and one run over six innings despite fighting his command in a 7-2 victory.
"It was definitely a battle," Paxton said. "I just didn't have a good feel for my release point on my off-speed stuff. My fastball was feeling good and I'm lucky it was."
Manager Lloyd McClendon, whose club is vying for one of the two American League Wild Card spots, continues to be impressed by the poise and ability of the lanky left-hander, who is 3-0 with a 1.91 ERA in five road starts despite facing some pretty tough clubs. He's pitched twice now at Detroit, he won at St. Louis last September and in Anaheim in April, and took a no-decision in a victory at Baltimore in his first game back earlier this month when he only went 4 1/3 innings.
Though Paxton admits to getting plenty amped up for his starts, McClendon says the youngster has been able to stay cool in tough situations.
"I think being very talented takes a lot of the pressure off," McClendon said. "You can relax a lot when you've got some bullets and some weapons. Maybe that's why he's relaxed, because he throws 99 mph, I don't know."
His counterpart Hamels, meanwhile, has thrown eight straight quality starts, and despite a 6-6 record, the left-hander has been solid this season.
He's posted a 3-1 record with a 1.23 ERA over six starts since the All-Star break, and hasn't given up more than three earned runs in a game since May 27 -- a span of 15 starts. Hamels didn't factor into a decision his last time out, pitching seven innings while allowing three runs, two walks and nine hits in the Phillies' win over the Giants on Friday.
Mariners: Morales back at first for finale
Logan Morrison started at first base in Tuesday's middle game of the Phillies series, but switch-hitter Kendrys Morales will be back there for Wednesday's finale against Hamels.
Morrison played right field, with Morales at first, in the opening game, but figures to get Wednesday off against the southpaw.
"I wanted to make sure I played those guys two out of three and this does it," McClendon said of putting Morrison at first on Tuesday. "It also gets Mo off his feet a little bit. I didn't want him to play back-to-back games at first base because that's kind of tough, not having done it all year."
With Justin Smoak now in Triple-A Tacoma, those two have split duties at first since Morales was acquired on July 24. And while Morales is primarily a DH, he's shown McClendon he can handle a glove.
"His hands are more than adequate. He moves around well. He does a decent job over there," McClendon said. "[Morrison] has done a nice job, too. Neither one of those guys are going to win a Gold Glove. But they catch the balls they're supposed to catch and that's all you want out of your first baseman."
Phillies: Ruf looking to prove worth
Right-handed-hitting Darin Ruf continues to make strides at the plate, but it hasn't translated into more than a platoon and pinch-hit role for the 28-year-old.
Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg has continuously reiterated that the Phillies lineup will be dictated by matchups, but going forward, the question still remains: Can Ruf be an everyday player?
Since being recalled on July 22 until Aug. 10, Ruf hit .143 in 12 games, including six starts. But in his four scattered starts since, he's hit .583 with two doubles and a homer, raising his season average 127 points to .256.
• Monday's 4-1 loss was the first by the Mariners in Philadelphia. They swept a three-game series at Veterans Stadium in 2003, but this is their first time playing at Citizens Bank Park.
• With his win on Monday, Jerome Williams became the fifth pitcher in the last 60 years to register at least one win for three different Major League teams in the same season.
Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.