Mariners’ James Paxton exits start vs. Angels in seventh inning with left pectoral strain

The Mariners’ last remaining front-end starter left Thursday night’s game after grimacing and pointing to his chest. He will be evaluated Friday.

On his 107th pitch, Mariners starter James Paxton let go of the ball, rolled his shoulders and grimaced. That caught the attention of catcher Mike Zunino, who called for the trainers, who looked at Paxton, who pointed to his chest before leaving with a left pectoral strain.

That, without any question, is the most important story to emerge from Thursday’s 6-3 loss to the Angels. Neither Paxton nor Mariners manager Scott Servais knew if Paxton would have to go on the disabled list.

Paxton said he didn’t feel any “pop,” that it was more like a cramp.

“It was probably the last three pitches,” Paxton said. “I thought it was just a little cramp, and I would be able to shake it out. But it just kind of kept on, and when I was playing with it, that’s when Mike came out. I was talking about it and he called out the trainers because we didn’t want to take any chances.”

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He added, “Right now, as I’m just standing here, I don’t feel anything. It’s just when I try to strengthen that pec muscle, it’s a little sore. So we’ll get it checked out tomorrow and hopefully it’s nothing serious. Obviously, I’m hoping not to miss any time.”

Paxton is not only the Mariners’ ace, a pitcher receiving consideration as a Cy Young candidate. He is the one reliable starter in the Mariners’ decimated rotation and one of the players the Mariners can least afford to lose.

“It hurts,” Servais said. “He’s been our guy. He’s been awesome. He really has. Don’t want to get too far ahead of it, but hopefully, fingers crossed, he’s not going to miss too much time.”

Against Kole Calhoun in the seventh inning, Paxton rolled his shoulders and grimaced after throwing his 107th pitch. Servais said Paxton’s…

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