NEW YORK – Since he was in the minor leagues, James Paxton, whether he wins, loses or draws a no-decision, has done the exact same thing in the days after he makes a start.
He picks up the phone.
The left-handed pitcher's post-outing routine regularly includes long conversations with the dedicated sports psychologist he connected with years ago after signing with mega-agent Scott Boras.
On the heels of a disappointing five- run, four-inning shelling at Houston last week, and with his first foray into the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry looming this week, the southpaw felt compelled in recent days to chat with the psychologist not once but twice.
"It was big, "Paxton said. "Those conversations definitely helped."
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Making his rivalry debut, Paxton gave the battered, bruised and banged-up Yankees exactly what they needed Tuesday in an 8-0 win over the similarly scuffling Red Sox.
Neither team is leading the American League East right now, but the Yankees hope a performance such as the one their entire team had in such a meaningful early season game might spark a run of some kind.
"This is a big game for us, "Paxton said. "The rivalry really got the juices flowing, got the boys going, and everyone played well. Defense, we hit the ball really well, we were taking good at-bats, pitched well. Everything kind came together, and hopefully we can build off of this and get on a roll. "
If the 7-9 Yankees begin rattling off wins, many of them might credit Paxton's stellar outing for getting it started.
" Paxton was unreal tonight, "left fielder Clint Frazier said. "He was confident From the get-go, he was out there throwing 100 [mph] And when you're doing that, it's going to be hard to hit a guy whenever his stuff's going like that.
" There's a reason he's here, and it's for moments like that. That's really impressive to go out and watch. "
Officially, Paxton's four-seam fastball peaked at 99.2 mph. It was the 99.1 mph heater he threw to close out an 11-pitch, 1-2-3 first inning that helped convince the southpaw he was about to have a special night.
Part of Paxton's conversations with his psychologist revolved around establishing himself as the aggressor as early as possible in Tuesday's start. That meant not just relying on his gas but leaning heavily upon it After two innings, 20 of the 26 pitches Paxton had thrown were four-seamers.
"Everything comes off my fastball," Paxton said. "Because I was throwing hard, they had to cheat to it, and that allowed me to throw the breaking ball later in the game and get some chases on that because they were cheating to the fastball. When I'm throwing that fastball like that, everything plays off of it. "