ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — James Paxton was removed from his final start before the playoffs after one inning because of a tight muscle in his buttocks, overshadowing six home runs by the Yankees in a 14-7 victory over the Texas Rangers on Friday night that gave New York 103 wins for the first time in a decade.
Paxton had won 10 consecutive starts, a career best. He allowed Danny Santana’s two-run homer in a 21-pitch first. At the end of the inning Yankees manager Aaron Boone, pitching coach Larry Rothschild and head athletic trainer Steve Donahue conferred in the dugout, and Ben Heller relieved in the second.
“I really don’t think it’s anything big at all,” Boone said, explaining his caution. “The next one is too important.”
New York’s postseason plans include a rotation with Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka and Luis Severino, scheduled to make his third start Saturday after recovering from a lat injury that had sidelined him since spring training.
Catcher Gary Sánchez returned after missing 10 games with left groin tightness. Sánchez struck out in all three plate appearances and came out after five innings, as planned.
New York held off on slugger Edwin Encarnación’s return from a left oblique injury. Boone said the concern was a tweak of the injury that could sideline the 36-year-old for the playoffs, and Encarnación missed his 12th straight game.
“He hit before again on the field really good, but I just think mentally he’s probably not quite over that hump where he needs to be,” Boone said. “Ideally, we’d love to get some at-bats this weekend, but it’s not the most important thing.”
Giancarlo Stanton, Cameron Maybin, Brett Gardner, Gio Urshela, Mike Ford and Austin Romine homered in the opener of the final series in the Rangers’ 25-year-old ballpark. The Yankees raised their major league record total to 305, four more than Minnesota.
DJ LeMahieu hit a three-run double that skipped past Willie Calhoun in left field to raise his RBIs total to 102, his first time in triple figures.
Stanton, limited to nine games before coming back from the injured list on Sept. 18, was 3 for 3 with two walks and three RBIs, and is 7 for 21 with two homers in seven games since his return.
Ford had a career-best four RBIs, and Gardner extended his career best with his 28th homer.
Urshela, who missed Wednesday’s game in Tampa Bay after he was hit on his left hand by a pitch in the road trip opener, singled in the fourth inning to end an 0-for-19 slide.
Luke Voit was 0 for 5 with three strikeouts, extending his slump to 1 for 30.
Five relievers followed Paxton with a scoreless inning apiece, and Stephen Tarpley (1-0) got his first big league win.
Michael King, a 24-year-old right-hander making his major league debut, was the only New York pitcher to get more than three outs, allowed an unearned run on his error in two innings.
Rookie Joe Palumbo (0-3) allowed three homers and struck out seven in three-plus innings as the Rangers lost for the 10th time in 12 games.
Severino (1-0, 0.00 ERA) has thrown nine scoreless innings in two starts since returning. He got his win in his second start, striking out nine in five innings against Toronto in New York’s final regular-season home game. Texas had not announced a Saturday starter.