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James Paxton Gives Yankees a Much-Needed Jolt Against the Red Sox

Category: Other Sports,Sports

For one night at least, the Yankees found a remedy to their early woes. No, they couldn’t stop the relentless expansion of their injured list, which grew to 12 on Tuesday with the addition of first baseman Greg Bird and his ailing left foot.

But there was an antidote to the baffling failures — stranded base runners, pitching hiccups, fielding mishaps — that had produced five losses in their previous six games. It was, of all things, a visit from the Boston Red Sox — the reigning World Series champions and the team that bounced the Yankees from the playoffs last season.

Granted, the Red Sox have also been sputtering, but in the first matchup of the season between these disjointed rivals, the Yankees kept Boston’s struggling ace, Chris Sale, on a losing streak and prevailed, 8-0.

For starter James Paxton, the game was not only his first exposure to this rivalry but also his best start in a Yankees uniform. The team’s biggest off-season acquisition, Paxton had been underwhelming in his first three starts, and he worried that he was giving opponents a peek at what pitches were coming.

“It was a big start for me, just to get my feet under and to show myself that I can be here and do this,” Paxton said.

Paxton was in control from the first pitch. He rediscovered his arsenal, particularly fastballs in the mid to high 90s, striking out 12 while allowing just two hits over eight innings — the longest outing by a Yankees starting pitcher this season. It was the team’s first shutout of the Red Sox (6-12) since July 16, 2017.

“He carried us,” said Yankees designated hitter Clint Frazier, who hit his fourth home run of the season in the fourth inning. “We just had to put up one run, because he did the rest for us. The reason he’s here is for moments like that.”

While facing his final batter of the night, Mookie Betts, Paxton ranged between 97 and 99 miles per hour on the radar gun. On his 110th and last pitch, he coaxed a flyout. And as he strolled toward the Yankees dugout, Paxton pointed to the roaring home crowd.

“That was awesome and special,” he said.

Paxton said he had remembered how to channel an aggressive mind-set on the mound, with help from a sports psychologist he had used for years. And while watching video, he figured out a tweak in his delivery that allowed him more control over his momentum toward the plate.

“I get my body in the right spot, and it feels like it just comes out easy,” he said.

While the Yankees (7-9) got some peace of mind with a vital starting pitcher, the Red Sox found none in Sale’s performance. His velocity, a big concern early in the season, improved, but the Yankees still produced seven hits and four runs — matching the most runs they had scored against him in his career. But in those previous outings, Sale had lasted at least six innings. This time, he managed only five — despite the Yankees’ depleted lineup.

The latest casualty, Bird, is expected to miss at least a month with a plantar fascial tear in his foot, Yankees Manager Aaron Boone said on Tuesday.

Against Sale, Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu and first baseman Luke Voit started the scoring, each singling in a run for a 2-0 lead in the third inning. In the fourth, the Yankees got more help from two players who were pushed into more significant roles because of injuries: Frazier, with his homer, and left fielder Mike Tauchman, who doubled in a run after entering the game with a .125 average.

Two innings later, Tauchman hit his first major league home run, a three-run blast into the second deck. Shortstop Gleyber Torres piled on with a solo blast in the seventh.

“As a new guy, you always want to help the team,” Tauchman said.

But the victory belonged most of all to the hard-throwing left-hander on the mound.

“Really good timing,” Boone said of Paxton. “We obviously needed that one. For him to go out there and just pound the zone with great stuff all night. I’m really proud of that effort.”

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