The Toronto Blue Jays talk a lot about how they're "Canada's team." It's tough to argue with them. Ever since the Expos left Montreal in 2004 to become the Washington Nationals, the Jays are the only Canadian team in the major leagues. And their fan base stretches across the country. Just ask the Seattle Mariners.
Every time the Jays pay them a visit, fans from the Vancouver area flock to Seattle and almost make it feel like a home game for the Toronto club. But last night, Seattle turned the tables on the Jays: there they were, on the road winning 5–0 in Toronto, basking in a standing ovation in Rogers Centre as the final out was recorded. But these weren't Mariners fans. They were just Jays fans recognizing a historic performance by Seattle pitcher, James Paxton.
Last night, Paxton of Ladner, B.C.—called Big Maple by his teammates—became the first Canadian to record a no-hitter since 1945. 73 years ago! No wonder the Jays fans were cheering! Watch the final out right here...
— MLB (@MLB) May 9, 2018
A classic test of skill and nerves
Sometimes in sports, achievements get kind of random names. (Scoring three goals in a game is called a hat trick? Okay...) But a no-hitter is exactly what it sounds like. It is a game when a pitcher plays so well that he doesn't allow his opponents to get a single hit. Considering that every team gets at least 27 chances to try and get a hit in a game, that's pretty impressive.
The only pitcher in Blue Jays history to get a no-hitter was Dave Stieb in 1990. It is a major test of skill and nerves. Especially once it becomes clear that a pitcher might get a no-hitter—around the seventh inning—many players begin to get very anxious. No one on the field wants to make the mistake that might allow a hit and ruin the shot at history!
Blessed by a bird?
Fortunately for James Paxton, both he and his teammates were up to the task. Big time!
In his previous game, Paxton threw a career-high 16 strikeouts. He was feeling good about himself. That carried over to last night. Though he only struck out seven Blue Jays, he used his powerful fastball to blow pitch after pitch past frustrated Toronto hitters. And his teammates also helped with terrific defense. Mariners left fielder Ben Gamel made a great catch off a deep Russel Martin drive in the eighth inning. But the play that saved the no-hitter was this seventh-inning catch made by third baseman Kyle Seager off Jays star Kevin Pillar.
— MLB (@MLB) May 9, 2018
What a play! And what a performance by Paxton. We just have one question for the six foot four Canadian... was he given superhuman powers after a bald eagle landed on his shoulder during Seattle's home opener on April 5?
— Cut4 (@Cut4) May 9, 2018
Hey, when your nickname is Big Maple, can you really blame a bird for choosing you as a landing spot? Congrats, James Paxton!