After getting shutout yesterday, tonight’s 10-1 victory was just what the doctor ordered. James Paxton was brilliant on the mound and the the Yankees’ offense was relentless. Let’s get to the takeaways:
James Paxton is in a groove and his timing couldn’t be better. He blanked Texas for seven innings and struck out twelve in the process. The lefty also allowed just two baserunners. That’s dominance, folks. It’s also starting to become the norm for him, which is great news for the Yankees.
Including tonight, Paxton has a 2.98 ERA since the trade deadline in seven starts. It’s no coincidence that he’s pitched better since altering his pitch mix.
Paxton is still reliant on his blazing fastball, but he’s now throwing his curveball more often. Tonight, his curveball was on display once again. A breakdown of what he threw the Rangers tonight:
Pretty safe to say just about everything was working for Big Maple tonight.
Paxton’s twelve punchouts matched his season-high. He reached it twice previously this year, in back-to-back outings vs. Boston and Kansas City. The start against the Red Sox was his only better start this season than this one: he threw eight scoreless that night.
This is the Paxton we’ve expected to see since his acquisition. Much of his season has been frustrating, particularly his first inning issue, but his recent uptick is unquestionably better late than never. If this is the guy the Yankees get come October, they’re in even better position than before. This is a much better feeling than last year, when we watched Luis Severino falter down the stretch.
This offense can’t go into a slump for long. Can one shutout be considered a slump? For this offense, I think so. That’s a major slump, in fact. A typical slump for this lineup is not scoring for a handful of innings.
Tonight, it didn’t take long to kick back into gear. Gary Sánchez opened the scoring in the first:
That was Gary’s 33rd of the season, which tied his previous career high set in 2017. That’s also the Yankees’ record for home runs by a catcher in a single season. More on Sánchez in a moment.
Home runs win ballgames. Tonight was the ideal game for this team’s brand of baseball. As Bobby wrote previously, homers are the key to success in the postseason. Let’s look at the other four dingers they hit.
After the first inning, Ariel Jurado entered for Texas and kept the Bombers off the board for a few innings. The floodgates finally re-opened in the sixth, however, when Didi Gregorius came to the dish:
That was Didi’s 14th dinger of the year and it made this one 5-0. His power hasn’t faded at all since returning from Tommy John surgery, which has been great news. Now, if Gregorius could just get his BABIP, walk, and strikeout rates back to previous levels. Hopefully that comes around soon.
But now, back to Gary. He wasn’t done and didn’t let Didi keep the spotlight for long:
What an impressive blast to pad the lead to 6-0. It was 110.7 MPH off the bat and 412 feet to the opposite field!
Obviously, with his previous homer tying a career-best, this one (his 34th) set a new personal record. And, it also set the new single-season record for Yankees’ catchers. Gary still has a ways to go to catch Javy López, who set the major league record for catcher homers with 42 in 2003. It’ll take a really strong finish for Gary to get there, but I certainly wouldn’t count him out. If he only was healthy in April, 42 would be no problem.
Brett Gardner and Edwin Encarnación tacked on dingers of their own. I don’t want to bog this post down with videos, so I’ll share two quick things about them. First, Gardner’s was his 20th of the season, which is one shy of his career best. Finally, it’s nice to see Encarnación go deep in his first game back from the injured list. I guess his wrist really is just fine even if his return seemed very quick.
- Tonight’s attendance brought the Yankees to three million fans in 2019. It’s the team’s 21st straight season reaching that mark, which is a Major League record.
- There was yet another injury scare in the eighth inning. Against Rafael Montero, Sánchez fouled a pitch off his ankle and was writhing in pain. Fortunately, he stayed in. But unfortunately, his at bat ended with a bean ball. He took a 96 MPH fastball off his forearm/elbow area, but remained in the game. I’m sure we’ll hear more in the postgame.
- Jonathan Loaisiga finished this one in relief of Paxton. He threw two innings and allowed one run. Scott Heineman took him deep in the ninth inning, the first homer of his career. Other than that, Loaisiga allowed a walk and another hit. His stuff played up in relief once again — he sat just under 98 MPH on his fastball.
These two teams square off once more tomorrow evening. Same time, same place. Have a good night!