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Now that is what I’m talking about. The Yankees defeated the rival Red Sox 4-2, improving to 69-39. You know what they say: nice. The Yanks have a 9 game lead over Tampa in the loss column and a 13 game lead over Boston in the loss column. That is just delicious. Keep it up, guys. I’m sick of the damn Wild Card.

Better yet: the Yankees allowed just 2 runs on 3 hits after getting pounded by Boston all weekend last week. All of the runs, for both teams, were scored in the first inning. This was a straightforward, painless and frankly satisfying win. Let’s keep it up and bury the Red Sox this weekend. Wouldn’t that be so nice?

Anyway, let’s get right on to the takeaways.

1. Paxton Rebounds: Lost in all of the noise about James Paxton recently is a very simple fact: the man is a good pitcher. He has had his fair share of struggles in New York, to be sure. He’d given 14 runs in 7.1 IP in his previous 2 starts, but before that, he started 3 straight games with 6.0 IP and 2 runs or fewer surrendered. He’s been laboring, but the signs of the pitcher we hoped for have been there, at least to a degree. Tonight, he reminded everyone of this, pitching 6 very strong innings, allowing just 2 hits, 2 runs, and striking out 6 men.

Much has been made of Paxton’s first inning struggles, and for good reason: he’s been awful in the first. We all know the numbers at this point, but tonight looked different. He struck out Mookie Betts, last week’s nemesis, on 7 pitches to open the game, and retired Devers on strikes with only three pitches. Two batters, 10 pitches, two strikeouts…and then he walked Xander Boegarts did this on an 0-1 pitch:

He’d been rolling, and then that. And honestly? It wasn’t even a bad pitch. I mean:

That’s not the worst location! It’s down and in to the righty Martinez, who just so happens to be a good hitter. As Friend of the Blog Hoodie Gleyber noted on Twitter, baseball energy is really powerful. The man, even when he’s hot, is doomed to fail in the first. That’s baseball, Suzyn.

Anyway, Paxton only allowed one more hit in this one, and he looked fantastic. I mean, he was throwing 99 mph on his 97th pitch of the night. He generated 49 swings tonight and 20 swings and misses. That’s a 41% whiff-per-swing rate. That’s what I’m talking about right there. A lot of loud contact, if you care about that sort of thing, but I love to see the swing and miss stuff. Here is the video of all of his strikeouts, because it’s just so beautiful to watch the Yankees beat the Red Sox:

2. Gleyber Torres is a Damn Stud: Down 2-0 entering the bottom of the first, the Yankees did not waste any time at all picking up Paxton tonight. LeMahieu singled, Judge walked, Encarnación walked, and Hicks popped up with the bases loaded. That brought up Gleyber Torres, who promptly did this:

First pitch of the AB, and right in on his hands. Amazing. Gleyber Torres, who is 22, is hitting .288/.356/.507 (124 wRC+) with 21 home runs and plus defense. Jonny wrote a bit about him a few weeks ago, but jeez, the kid is just so impressive. He’s walking more and striking out less this year, too. His game just continues to improve. I love rooting for Torres, but he makes it really easy. The future is very bright for this kid, and he’s already so damn good. I can’t wait to watch him throughout the years. He is a special player.

3. Thank Goodness They Traded for Edwin: After a slow start, Edwin Encarnación is reminding folks why the Yankees traded for him in the first place. Edwin was hitting .319/.395/.639 (166 wRC+) with 5 HR and 18 RBI in 81 AB since July 12, and he kept it rolling tonight. He went 1-2 with 2 walks, which isn’t exactly setting the world on fire, but man has he been hot recently.

In the wake of the Voit injury, the Yankees are going to rely on Edwin to produce–even more than they already were–and he is clearly up to the task. It’s a shame we’re likely never going to see the full Yankee lineup this year, because my goodness would it be scary. But hey: in the most optimistic timeline, everyone would be healthy right when the air gets crisp….a man can dream, right?

4. Welcome Back, DJ LeMahieu: It is so nice to see DJLM back in the Yankee lineup, isn’t it? A lot of griping about the way the Yankees handled his injury–you’d see “why wasn’t he put on the 10-day IL” all over the place–but while it wasn’t ideal, I’m glad he’s playing now. It’s nice to have him going up against Boston now that he’s healthy and the Yankees have a chance to put him away.

He led off this game with a single, and added another hit to the ledger later in the game, going 2-4. He’s now hitting .334/.383/.519 (137 wRC+) on the season. I have anything else to say, really. It’s just good to see him back. The Yankees are better with him in the lineup. What a player.

Leftovers

  • Tommy Kahnle’s Changeup: The return of 2017 playoffs Tommy Kahnle has been my favorite subplot to the Yankee season so far, and tonight was a perfect illustration of why he’s been so damn effective. His trademark changeup, which he uses about 50% of the time, has been just so, so good this year. Batters hit only .140 against the pitch so far for a slugging percentage of .140. The average exit velocity is 85 mph. It’s a huge pitch and it’s been working.
  • Judge’s Sustained Excellence: I could write more about this, but I don’t think I need to. Aaron Judge is just so good all of the damn time. He went 1-3 with a walk tonight, and he’s up to .280/.399/.487 (134 wRC+) on the season. What a player.

Up Next

A doubleheader! The Yankees and Red Sox will face off twice tomorrow, with the first of the games taking place at 1:05 pm EST. New Yankee ace Domingo Germán (13-2, 4.08 ERA) will take on Boston’s ace Chris Sale (5-10, 4.26 ERA). We’ll have coverage of both games individually, of course. You can catch this one on YES locally, FS1 nationally, and, obviously, on WFAN 660 am. Enjoy the rest of your night, everyone.