There was solace in the most crushing loss of the season: The Yankees aren’t scheduled to visit Tampa again this year.
Despite a solid effort from James Paxton and a late three-run lead, the Yankees suffered their third loss in four games against the Rays on Sunday, 4-3, on Michael Perez’s walk-off single off Zack Britton. With their seventh loss in their past eight games at Tropicana Field, the Yankees have now lost five of seven games since their seven-game win streak, allowing the Rays to climb within two games of first place.
The Yankees begin a nine-game homestand Tuesday against the Braves.
Paxton, a week removed from admitting he was “concerned” and hoping “to figure out what’s going on,” shook off two discouraging outings — totaling a combined four innings — to open with six brilliant innings, during which he recorded 11 strikeouts. Using a fastball-heavy attack, the lefty raised his velocity as high as 94 mph — he averaged 91.8 mph on fastballs in his first two starts, down from 95.4 last season — and surrendered just one hit entering the seventh inning.
“I feel like even before the last start, he started to make some improvements, and…