YANKEES (87-47) AT MARINERS (56-77)
4:10 p.m. ET; ROOTNW, YES, MLB.TV
The series between the New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners hasn’t lacked for intrigue.
On Tuesday night, Aaron Judge became the third-fastest player to reach 100 career home runs, hitting a 462-foot blast halfway up the batter’s eye in straightaway center field in the first inning of a 7-0 New York victory.
He accomplished the feat in 371 games, trailing only former Philadelphia standout Ryan Howard (325 games) and Yankees teammate Gary Sanchez (355).
“For him to continue to really have a big-time impact on us on this trip has been really good to see,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of Judge, who has homered in four of the past five games.
The game also featured the 16th matchup in major league history between Japanese-born starting pitchers. It was no contest, as the Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka pitched seven shutout innings of three-hit ball while Mariners rookie Yusei Kikuchi was knocked out after four innings in which he allowed five runs on eight hits.
The Wednesday afternoon series finale will see two left-handers who were traded for each other in the offseason take the mound.
The Yankees’ James “Big Maple” Paxton (10-6, 4.43 ERA), who spent his first six seasons in Seattle, will go up against the Mariners’ Justus Sheffield (0-0, 6.43), who will be making his second major league start.
“It’s like you guys drew it up that way,” Paxton told reporters with a laugh. “Most of the time I don’t even know who is pitching against me on those days. I’m out there doing my job.”
Paxton, acquired by the Yankees in a Nov. 19 trade for three prospects, was 41-26 with a 3.42 ERA in 102 starts for Seattle. That included a no-hitter last season at Toronto.
Paxton, a native of Ladner, British Columbia, was well-liked in Seattle. Fans even created the “Maple Grove” in the upper deck in left field in 2017, sneaking a tree into the stadium for Paxton’s starts.
“I don’t know what it’s going to be like,” he said. “I’m not too concerned. I’m going to be out there doing my thing. It will just be fun to be back on the mound at T-Mobile Park.”
Sheffield is also looking forward to facing his former team. He made three major league relief appearances for the Yankees last season.
“It’s crazy, huh?” Sheffield told MLB.com of facing Paxton. “I don’t know if it lined up like that on purpose or what, but it is what it is and it’s going to be fun.”
The 23-year-old said his familiarity with the Yankees might help him “a little.”
“But I have to take it like any other team,” he said. “I still have to do my homework and I still have to go out and compete.”
Sheffield made one relief appearance for the Mariners on April 26 before returning to Triple-A Tacoma. He struggled mightily with his control in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League and was demoted to Double-A Arkansas, where he got back on track. He was recalled by Seattle last week and put into the rotation.
Sheffield pitched four innings Friday in a no-decision against the Blue Jays, allowing three runs on seven hits. He struck out three and walked three.
“I just need to keep it going,” he told MLB.com. “I have to stick to the same routines and get better every day.”
–Field Level Media