A series featuring two division rivals could only end in a Game 5 nail-biter. Even after sending SP Gerrit Cole out on three days rest, the Rays came out on top and advanced to the ALCS with a 3-2 series win. As for the Yankees, it is time to reflect on managerial decisions that may have blown them the series.
In an exciting ALDS series opener, the Yankees sent Cole to toe the rubber versus the Rays SP Blake Snell. But what was supposed to be a pitchers duel wound up being a slugfest as the Yankees won, 9-3.
The Yankees achieved something no other team could against Snell this season — score in the first inning. A sacrifice fly out from OF Aaron Hicks put the Yankees up 1-0 early. However, the Rays would answer right back in the bottom of the first with a home run by LF Randy Arozarena.
The top of the third started with a bang, as LF Clint Frazier smacked a home run to reclaim a 2-1 lead.
Arozarena stayed hot in the fourth with a lead off single followed up by a two-run home run by 1B Ji-Man Choi to give the Rays their only lead of the game, 3-2. Unfortunately for Snell and the Rays, the Yankees immediately tied the game in the top of the fifth with a lead off home run by C Kyle Higashioka and claimed the lead with another home run by OF Aaron Judge two batters later.
The remainder of the game went on without a hitch until the Yankees broke it open in the ninth. Of the 11 batters that came to the plate, five of them scored, highlighted by a DH Giancarlo Stanton grand slam off RHP John Curtiss. A 42-pitch inning from Curtiss forced Manager Kevin Cash to bring in LHP Shane McClanahan, who became the first pitcher to make his MLB debut in the postseason.
Thanks to four home runs, a quality start from Cole and a lights-out bullpen, the Yankees took Game 1 of the ALDS with ease to claim an early 1-0 lead.
Game 1 notable performances:
Cole: 6 IP, 8 Ks, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, W
Hicks: 3-4, SF, 2 RBI, 1 R
Stanton: 1-4, HR, 4 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB
Higashioka: 2-4, HR, 1 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB
Arozarena: 3-4, HR, 1 RBI, 2 R
Choi: 1-3, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 IBB
It was a game for the record books for SP Tyler Glasnow, who set a franchise postseason record with 10 strikeouts in a 7-5 win over the Yankees to even the ALDS, 1-1.
Arozarena continued to terrorize Yankees pitching, hitting a solo home run in the first inning off SP Deivi Garcia to put the Rays up 1-0. The Yankees quickly tied the game in the top of the second with a home run by Stanton, his fourth in as many games.
Unfortunately for the Yankees and LHP J.A. Happ, who started the second inning, the Rays added two more runs via a two-run home run by C Mike Zunino in the second and another two-run shot by RF Manuel Margot in the third. Those were all the runs the Rays wound up needing, as they never gave up the lead after the third inning.
The Yankees’ pitching staff simply did not have it in this one, as it took six Yankees pitchers to record 27 outs. RHP Jonathan Holder and RHP Nick Nelson were the only two relievers to record a 1-2-3 inning in the seventh and eighth innings, respectively, but the Rays had already extended their lead to 7-4 prior to the seventh inning.
The Yankees saw some life in the top of the seventh with a leadoff walk from SS Gleyber Torres and a base hit from LF Clint Frazier. Cash immediately turned to RHP Nick Anderson, who promptly retired every batter he faced in the seventh and eighth innings while tallying four strikeouts.
The Yankees threatened again in the ninth with a walk from 3B Gio Urshela and Torres, but Fairbanks struck out the next two batters before 2B DJ LeMahieu roped a line drive base hit up the middle to cut the Rays lead to two. Fairbanks got Judge to ground out to third to end the game, earning his second save of the postseason.
Game 2 notable performances:
CF Aaron Hicks: 1-2, 2 BB, 1 R
Stanton: 2-4, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R
Glasnow: 5.0+ IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 4 R, 4 ER, 10 Ks, W
Anderson: 2.0 IP, 4 Ks, 0 BB, 0 H
Arozarena: 2-4, HR, 1 RBI, 1 R
Margot: 1-2, HR, 2 RBI, 1 R
There is a reason why the Rays finished 40-20 in the regular season, and an 8-4 Game 3 win over the Yankees proved they are one of the hottest teams in baseball right now.
At this point, Yankees pitchers should probably stop pitching to Arozarena, who collected his third multi-hit performance in as many games by going 3-4 with a solo home run in the fifth.
Similar to Game 2, the Rays got the scoring started in the second with an RBI line drive base hit by C Michael Perez to score 3B Joey Wendle. The Yankees answered right back in the bottom of the second with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly out from Judge; unfortunately that would be the only run scored against SP Charlie Morton, as the Yankees stranded three base runners.
The fourth inning saw the Rays take a 4-1 lead, which they would never give up, thanks to CF Kevin Kiermaier’s three-run blast off SP Masahiro Tanaka.
The Rays just kept adding runs as the game progressed, tacking on another three runs in the sixth courtesy of a two-run home run by Perez and an RBI double by Choi.
The Yankees pitching staff simply could not silence the Ray’s bats, who wound up with 13 hits in the contest. The most notable Yankees pitching performance came from RHP Michael King, who worked two perfect innings in the eighth and ninth. The Yankees made an attempt at a comeback in the eighth, as DH Giancarlo Stanton hit his fifth home run in as many Postseason games, a two-run shot to shrink the deficit 8-4.
The Rays provided Morton with a commanding lead and let their bullpen take care of the rest, as the Rays took an important 2-1 series lead.
Game 3 notable performances:
Morton: 5.0 IP, 6 Ks, 2 BB, 2 R, 2 ER, W
Arozarena: 3-4, HR, 1 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB
Kiermaier: 2-4, HR, 2B 3 RBI, 1 R
Perez: 2-4, HR, 1 R, 3 RBI
King: 2.0 IP, 1 K, 0 BB, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 H
Hicks: 1-3, 2B, 1 BB, 1 RBI
Stanton: 2-4, HR, 2 RBI, 1 R
It was win or go home for the Yankees, but a clutch start by SP Jordan Montgomery and five shutout innings from the bullpen propelled New York to a 5-1 victory over Tampa Bay to tie the series 2-2 and force a Game 5.
The Yankees scored two in the second and never looked back from there. 1B Luke Voit got the Yankees on the board with a home run off opener RHP Ryan Thompson and LeMahieu hit a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0. 2B Brandon Lowe cut the deficit in half with a hard hit fielders choice to LeMahieu at second, but that was the only run the Rays scratched across against Montgomery and the bullpen.
Torres extended the Yankees’ lead to 4-1 in the sixth with a two run shot off LHP Ryan Yarbrough. Torres had another base hit in the eighth and after stealing his way into scoring position, Higashioka scored him with a base hit to right field.
RHP Chad Green (W), LHP Zack Britton (H) and CP Aroldis Chapman (S) were absolutely unhittable, pitching a combined five innings, striking out seven, walking one and not allowing a hit.
Game 4 notable performances:
Voit: 1-4, HR, 1 RBI, 1 R
Torres: 2-3, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, 1 SB, 1 BB
Montgomery: 4.0 IP, 4 Ks, 3 H, 3 BB, 1 R, 1 ER
Yarbrough: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 K, 1 BB
Kiermaier: 1-3, 1 RBI, 2B
The second best pair of words in sports: Game Five. Even after an impressive comeback performance in a critical Game 4 to tie the series, the Yankees lost to their division rival in a nail-biter, losing 2-1 as the Rays advanced to the ALCS to square off against Houston.
Neither team recorded a hit until Judge lead off the top of the fourth with a home run to put the Yankees up 1-0, but that would be the only run New York could muster across in the contest.
Pitching on three days rest, Cole was absolutely dominant on the mound, striking out nine batters in five-plus innings of work. The only damage against Cole was a home run by RF Austin Meadows in the fifth, which tied the game 1-1.
The last batter Cole faced was the hot hitting Arozarena, who cranked one deep to right field but was robbed by LF Brett Gardner in the sixth.
The final blow against New York came in the bottom of the eight inning with one out. Mike Brosseau, who pinch hit for Choi in the sixth, had a 10-pitch at-bat before ripping a go-ahead home run off Chapman to put the Rays up, 2-1. Stanton and Voit didn’t put up much of a fight against RHP Diego Castillo, both striking out on five pitches, and Urshela lined out to third to end the game.
Game 5 notable performances:
Cole: 5.1 IP, 9 Ks, 2 BB, 1 HBP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER
Judge: 1-3, HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB
Brosseau: 2-2, HR, 1 RBI, 1 R
Meadows: 1-4, HR, 1 RBI, 1 R
Castillo: 2 IP, W, 4 Ks, 1 BB, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER
My name is Sebastian and I am a senior at Northern Arizona University. I am a double major in journalism and communication, along with a minor in German. I have been in various editorial positions and have contributed articles to The Lumberjack, NAU's student-run newspaper.