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Yankees Highlights: James Paxton rebounds but the Rays walk it off

The Yankees had every chance to salvage a series split in Tampa Bay, but the Rays rallied and walked off a 4-3 win.

MLB: New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

A frustrating series against the rival Rays has finally come to a close. The Yankees had every chance to emerge from both today’s matchup and this weekend’s four-game set victorious, but they fell just short on both counts. They’ve now lost five of their last seven, but remain two games clear in the AL East thanks to their hot first couple weeks.

Winner of the Game

Well, that was almost a tremendous start for James Paxton. After getting shelled in his first two outings, showcasing disturbingly low fastball velocity, Paxton got back on track through six innings, dicing through the Tampa lineup to the tune of one hit, one walk, and 11 strikeouts. Then, with one out in the seventh, the Rays hit back-to-back home runs to tie the game, marring Paxton’s best start of the year.

Even so, Paxton is a winner today in that his velocity bumped a bit, albeit not to his career norms, and he showed he can still pitch very well at 92-93 mph. Of course, the Yankees would love to see him dominate at 95 mph.

Loser of the Game

Aaron Judge and Gio Urshela managed 0-fer’s, but I think the real culprit today was the Yankees’ failure in a few key spots. For one, it’s hard to defend Aaron Boone’s decision to leave Paxton in to give up a second home run, if not his decision to send Paxton out for the seventh. The Yankees also failed to get the big hits the Rays came up with, leaving traffic on the basepaths a few times. And at the last, Zack Britton faltered in the ninth, allowing a double and uncorking a wild pitch before yielding the game-winning single to Michael Perez.