CHICAGO — It still wasn’t the dominant, top-of-the-rotation-caliber James Paxton the Yankees hoped they were trading for in the offseason.
But Paxton was pretty good overall in a 10-3 victory over the White Sox Sunday afternoon, and by far the best the inconsistent lefthander has been in four starts since coming off the injured list.
Given how things have gone for the Yankees' rotation of late, the club will more than take it, as Paxton’s effort allowed the Yankees to earn a split of the four-game series.
“Big effort by him for us,” Aaron Boone said. “Any chance you can get guys deeper into the game and preserve guys in the pen, it’s big. So we’ll take a good, strong six-inning effort.”
Paxton, who had allowed nine earned runs in 7 1/3 innings in his previous two starts, gave up two runs, eight hits and a walk, striking out seven.
“I knew I was going to figure it out,” he said. “It was a bit of a rough stretch for me. Today was definitely a step in the right direction as far as figuring some things out for me. So I’ll just look to keep that going in the next one.”
Austin Romine and Brett Gardner each had had two hits and drove in four runs for the Yankees. DJ LeMahieu, Cameron Maybin and Gio Urshela — who came into the day in his first prolonged slump (7-for-39) — also had two hits.
Gardner and Romine sandwiched two-out, two-run singles around Urshela's RBI single in the third against Chicago righthander Odrisamer Despaigne as the Yankees took a 5-1 lead. Romine added a two-run double in the fifth.
Maybin’s home run to centerfield with two outs in the seventh made it 19 straight games in which the Yankees have homered, the second-longest streak in franchise history behind the 25 straight accomplished in June 1941.
The AL East-leading Yankees (43-27) remained a half-game ahead of the Rays. They will face Tampa Bay on Monday to begin a 10-game homestand.
Paxton allowed a two-out homer by Jose Abreu in the first inning but threw three scoreless innings before the White Sox added a run in the fifth to draw within 7-2. Boone and Romine praised his slider.
“His slider was on point today, a lot of swings and misses, more so than normal,'' Romine said. "Mixed it with fastballs up and then kind of sprinkled the curveball in.”
“It was a good two-strike pitch for me today,” said Paxton, who has struggled with the slider at times this season. “It was a lot better pitch for me.”
Paxton said he made a mechanical tweak around the third inning, which Romine noticed.
“I don’t know what the adjustment was. I try to stay in my lane as a catcher,” he said. “But I noticed it significantly. Whatever he did worked, and the ball was coming in with life and he was executing pitches.”