Gardy's big game gives Paxton 9th straight W

Lefty joins Ford, Guidry, Mussina with streak thanks to veteran outfielder's 5 RBIs

September 15th, 2019

TORONTO -- continued his winning ways for the Yankees on Saturday, to a point of historic proportions.

Paxton earned the decision in a 13-3 win over the Blue Jays to become just the fourth Yankees pitcher since 1961 to win nine consecutive starts, joining Whitey Ford, Ron Guidry and Mike Mussina. The Canadian native held Toronto to one run and three hits in five innings, with leading New York’s offensive outburst.

The nine-win run started on Aug. 2, at home against the Red Sox. Paxton has allowed no more than six hits in any of those starts and has received as few as four runs in support. Five of the wins have come against divisional opponents.

With the win, the Yankees’ magic number to clinch the American League East was cut to four, and it stayed that way after the Rays defeated the Angels in Anaheim.

Paxton's latest effort didn’t start out easy, as he labored through a 31-pitch first inning. He issued a nine-pitch walk to Bo Bichette and a double to Lourdes Gurriel Jr., but managed to strand them both.

After Gurriel Jr.’s double, Paxton retired 11 of the next 12 batters over three-plus innings. The fifth inning brought some trouble, but he dialed up a 95.8-mph fastball -- his hardest pitch of the day -- to fan Gurriel Jr. and strand another pair of runners.

“Didn’t have a lot in the tank today,” said Paxton, who needed 101 pitches to get through his five frames. “Didn’t have the sharpest stuff, but was able to make pitches when I needed to, to get out of innings.”

When he wasn’t making pitches, Paxton could sit back and watch Yankees hitters put on a show. New York collected 19 hits as a team, including two home runs and a double from Gardner.

Power has never been the primary tool of Gardner’s game. In a 12-year career, he has only surpassed the 20-homer mark twice. Meanwhile, he has stolen 20 or more bases seven times.

But at the ripe age of 36, Gardner is posting career-best numbers in home runs (25), slugging percentage (.500) and OPS (.823). He feels that his age has been a helpful factor, as opposed to something he’s overcoming.

“I feel like the older I get, the smarter I get,” Gardner said. “I take better care of myself.”

His 129 games played ranks third on the team, behind (136) and (134). Pair that with his power production, and Gardner is helping to fill some of the void left behind by injured sluggers and .

“He’s durable, he’s really competitive -- he hasn’t stopped being a good player,” manager Aaron Boone said of Gardner. “We wouldn’t be this well off without him, that’s for sure.”