The Yankees believed that James Paxton had the necessary weapons to dominate hitters, even with his velocity a few ticks lower following back surgery earlier this year. The left-hander struck out 11 over 6 1/3 innings, but he faltered in the seventh and Zack Britton permitted a walk-off hit to Michael Perez in a 4-3 loss to the Rays on Sunday at Tropicana Field.
Making his third start of the season, Paxton worked quickly through six dominant innings before serving up back-to-back homers in the seventh. Jonathan Holder kept the game tied until the ninth, when Britton allowed a leadoff double and walked a batter before Perez’s run-scoring hit to right field. New York dropped three of four to their division rivals in the weekend series.
Showcasing increased velocity on his fastball, Paxton generated seven swings and misses on 25 swings at his heater on Sunday, averaging 92.3 mph and touching 93.9 mph. Paxton had just six whiffs on 37 swings at his fastball through his first two starts, when it averaged 91.8 mph.
With Paxton having blanked the Rays on two hits through six innings, manager Aaron Boone permitted him to begin the seventh. José Martínez doubled, Mike Brosseau hit a two-run homer and Brandon Lowe followed with a solo shot to chase Paxton, who spiked his glove in the dugout as he settled for a no-decision.