Nick Swisher appeared as a pinch-hitter last night after an MRI exam showed merely inflammation in his sore left knee, but was clearly at significantly less than full strength while limping to first base on a ground out.
After the game he described it as “dragging around my left leg” and noted that “it’s starting to affect a lot of other things, my hips, my shoulders, the way I’m throwing the ball.” He’s slated to undergo a second MRI exam today and Swisher indicated to Marc Carig of the Newark Star Ledger that he expects the results to show something beyond inflammation:
We took the MRI before and it said that there was nothing, but I found that really, really hard to believe. We’ll go in there tomorrow and whatever happens, just take it head on. It’s been going like this for a week, man. As much as you want to be out there and be playing, on one leg ain’t exactly the way I want to be going out there. … If we get this MRI and they say, “Take a week off,” I want to get healthy.
Swisher originally suffered the injury last month when he fouled a ball off his left knee, but has remained remarkably productive since then while hitting .255/.327/.574 with four homers, three doubles, and 12 RBIs in 14 games.
James Paxton of the Mariners is 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, 39 strikeouts and only six walks in 32.1 innings of work over five starts. Last night he shut the Tigers down, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. With Felix Hernandez looking less than king-like lately, Paxton is asserting himself as the new ace of the Seattle staff.
And now the tall Canadian native has a nickname to match his ace-like status:
“Pax was really outstanding and we certainly needed it,” manager Scott Servais said of the Canadian southpaw. “Big Maple is what he was nicknamed tonight and I kind of like that. He was awesome.”
“Big Maple” is a fantastic nickname. That’s the sort of nickname guys used to get back when nicknames were great. Before managers just put “y” at the end of dudes’ names and before the “First Initial-First Three Letters of The Last Name” convention took hold in the wake of A-Rod.
“Big Maple.” That makes me smile. I’m gonna be smiling all dang day because of that.
I mentioned this in the recaps this morning, but I think it deserves it’s own special place. Get what went down in the second inning of last night’s Rays-O’s game:
Ryan Flaherty was on first with Seth Smith up to bat. Smith hit a single to center. Flaherty, who was running with the pitch, was making for third base. All-world defender Kevin Kiermaier tried to gun him down but threw wildly to third, causing Flaherty to break for home.
Pitcher Alex Cobb had the play backed up, however! He got the ball near the dugout. Flaherty scampered back to third and Cobb tried to throw him out. The ball hit Flaherty’s helmet, richocheting into left field, allowing both Flaherty and Smith — who had stopped at first and then stopped at second, like a kid at tee ball or something — to come around and score.
I still think the Rays walking home the winning run on four pitches in the 11th inning was worse, but this looked worse.
Oh well: the Rays get the day off today and tomorrow, of course, is another day.