BOSTON — James Paxton made sure the Yankees got a little satisfaction Monday night. The Yankees’ lefty dominated the Red Sox, giving them 6.2 innings in a 5-0 win at Fenway Park in their final scheduled meeting of 2019. The loss eliminated the Red Sox, who have won the last three American League East titles, from the division race and dropped the Yankees magic number down to nine.
Paxton may not have been there last year when the Red Sox celebrated twice in the Bronx, but he enjoyed knocking them out of the division race.
“Absolutely. It’s awesome,” Paxton said. “We feel really confident as a team right now, and it feels great to knock those guys out of the division anyway. We’re just going to keep on going forward, focusing on one game at a time and get ready for the postseason.”
Business-like on the field and in front of the cameras, the Yankees did let their anthem play loudly in the clubhouse after racking up their third straight win Monday night. “New York, New York,” which plays at the Stadium after every Yankees game, could be heard in the clubhouse after the game.
“It’s a good song,” catcher Austin Romine said with a smile.
The Yankees (95-50) finished the season against the Red Sox (76-68) with a 14-5 record. That is the most wins in a season the Yankees have notched against Boston since 1960. They become one of five teams in the Expansion Era to win 14 games against the Red Sox and the most since the 1973 Tigers.
While the Red Sox are still technically in the race for the AL Wild Card, the loss to the Yankees effectively put the cap on a disastrous 2019 for Boston, coming less than 24 hours after the team fired Dave Dombrowski, their President of baseball operations.
With the Red Sox now in their rear-view mirror, the Yankees also dropped their magic number to clinch their first division title since 2012 to nine. They remained on pace with the Astros in the race for the best record in baseball, which will determine home-field advantage in the playoffs.
“That’s what we’re shooting for. We want to be the best team in the AL East, the best team in the AL,” Aaron Judge said. “ That was our goal out of spring training, win our division first. We saw how it helped out Boston going down the stretch, getting to set up their lineup for the postseason and give their big boys some rest here and there, to get them ready for the real season. That’s our goal. We’re not there yet, but we’re getting close.”
When they get there, Paxton is proving he could be the pitcher to get them through the playoffs.
Paxton scattered four hits, walked three and struck out seven. With home runs from Romine and Gio Urshela, Paxton earned his career-high eighth straight win and his career-high 13th win of the year.
“Obviously, the stuff speaks for itself. I mean, when you have three great pitches like that. I think the conviction from a game plan, knowing exactly what he wants to do, how he wants to attack,” Boone said. “He’s in a really good place and excited for him to go out and finish a really nice series for us.”
He’s been dominating over his last eight starts. Paxton has allowed 14 earned runs in 49 (2.57 ERA) innings work. He’s walked 18 and struck out 58 over that span.
That is a dramatic turnaround from June and July, when he struggled through 10 starts with 6.38 ERA.
It was the eighth shutout the Yankees pitchers have posted this season, the last Aug. 28 at Seattle.
Romine had a solo shot in the fifth, his seventh of the season and second in three games at Fenway in 2019. Romine also doubled. Gio Urshela, in his first start since coming off the injured list, had a solo homer in the seventh.
That put a cap on the Red Sox for the Yankees this season. There was the brief, semi-private celebration with Frank Sinatra crooning their theme song, but then they turned the page quickly.
“We’ve got to grind it out. We’ve still got work to do in Detroit and Toronto and finish up a road trip that started off pretty well,” Romine said.