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Paxton accomplishes rare Yankees feat vs. KC

Southpaw joins Cone as only pitchers in club history with back-to-back 12-plus strikeout games
@feinsand
April 21, 2019

NEW YORK -- James Paxton's big night against the Red Sox earlier this week provided him with his first big Yankees moment. On Sunday, the hard-throwing left-hander put on a repeat performance. Paxton struck out 12 batters in six-plus scoreless innings in New York's 7-6, 10-inning walk-off win over the

NEW YORK -- James Paxton's big night against the Red Sox earlier this week provided him with his first big Yankees moment. On Sunday, the hard-throwing left-hander put on a repeat performance.

Paxton struck out 12 batters in six-plus scoreless innings in New York's 7-6, 10-inning walk-off win over the Royals at Yankee Stadium.

“Today was different; I didn’t have the super power fastball like I did the other day,” said Paxton, who scattered three hits. “I used a lot of offspeed today, throwing that for strikes. [Catcher Austin] Romine was great back there, mixing up the pitches, calling in and out, working guys backwards a little bit with breaking stuff early and hard stuff late. Just really kept them guessing.”

It marked Paxton's second straight 12-strikeout performance, making him only the second Yankees pitcher with back-to-back games with a dozen or more punchouts.

The other? David Cone, who happened to be calling Sunday’s game for the YES Network.

“It's one of those unique things that you never think about until it's brought up,” Cone said. “But I contrast his two starts. The last one was such a power game; his fastball velocity was way up and he used it and pitched off of his fastball. It was completely the opposite this time. Almost like he got into a pitching mode earlier, mixed in all his pitches in the first inning. It looked more like a finesse game today than his first start.”

Pitching on eight days’ rest, Cone fanned 14 Marlins in his start at the old Yankee Stadium on June 7, 1998. One week later, he struck out 12 Indians in the Bronx.

“I remember that I had a long layoff [before the first start],” Cone said. “My mother's dog bit my finger; I had to miss a start because of the laceration I had on my finger. And that allowed 'El Duque' to come up and make his Yankees debut. So I remember thinking, 'El Duque' had a great start, I felt a little bit like Wally Pipp for a minute. Then I went out and had the 14-strikeout game against the Marlins.”

Paxton started his Yankees career with a 1-2 record and 6.00 ERA after three starts, but his masterpiece against the Red Sox last Tuesday -- he allowed two hits and a walk, hit a batter and struck out 12 over eight scoreless innings -- seems to have turned things around.

The 30-year-old lefty walked off the mound to a huge ovation after giving up a double and a walk to start the seventh with the Yankees leading 5-0 on Sunday.

“Kind of dominant again,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “I didn’t think his stuff was quite the same as the Boston game, where he had that overpowering stuff. But I thought the command was really good, I thought his sliders and breaking balls were really good, and he really found his lane with the fastball. I think [he] definitely tired a little bit there at the end.”

Sunday marked the 13th career double-digit strikeout game for Paxton.

Despite not having the same heater that he featured against the Red Sox, Paxton was extremely satisfied with the way he pitched against the Royals on Sunday.

“Just different ways to get it done,” Paxton said. “I’m not always going to have 97 or 98 [mph] right out of the gates and have it all game, so I have to be able to pitch multiple ways. Today, I really showed myself I can get it done throwing the breaking ball for strikes and using my fastball off my breaking ball.”

Mark Feinsand, an executive reporter, originally joined MLB.com as a reporter in 2001.