Henderson Alvarez completes wild walkoff no-hitter

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Here’s something we definitely didn’t see coming.

Marlins right-hander Henderson Alvarez has no-hit the American League Central-champion Tigers through seven innings Sunday in Miami. It’s not a fully-loaded Detroit lineup for Game 162, but Prince Fielder is in there along with Jhonny Peralta, Omar Infante and a couple other regulars. Miguel Cabrera, Austin Jackson, Victor Martinez, Alex Avila and Torii Hunter are on the Tigers’ bench.

We’ll have inning-by-inning updates as Alvarez tries to make history on the final day of the 2013 regular season. The 23-year-old from Venezuela has thrown only 76 pitches so far. It’s a scoreless game.

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UPDATE, 2:49 p.m. ET: Alvarez cruised through the top of the eighth on two groundouts and a strikeout of Ramon Santiago. His pitch count is only 86 through eight no-hit frames, but the score remains 0-0.

UPDATE, 3:01 p.m. ET: Alvarez snagged two comebackers for the first two outs in the top of the ninth. He then walked Andy Dirks on four straight pitches but rallied back to strike out Matt Tuiasosopo. That’s nine innings of no-hit ball, but it’s not an official no-hitter yet because the Marlins still haven’t scored a run in the 0-0 game. Alvarez is at 99 pitches and would almost certainly come back out for the top of the 10th.

UPDATE, 3:14 p.m. ET: Miami loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth inning against Tigers reliever Luke Putkonen and Giancarlo Stanton scampered home for the winning run on a two-out walkoff wild pitch. What an odd scene at Marlins Park. It was the fifth no-hitter in Marlins franchise history.

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.