Rays Double up Yankees To Take 2-1 Series Lead

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Rays 8, Yankees 4

Game Three is always the pivotal game of a best of five series. The Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees knew that going in and both trusted their veteran right-handed pitchers to do the job. Charlie Morton battled through some rough spots, but gave the Rays the five innings they needed. Unfortunately for the Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka could not match his stat line. He gave up five runs on eight hits, with the big blow being a three-run homer by Kevin Kiermaier.  Randy Arozarena would knock him out of the game when he led off the fifth with his third home run of the series.

Giancarlo Stanton hit his fourth home run in three games against the Rays. He has now homered in all five Yankee games this postseason. His home run was one of only two extra-base hits the Yankees would muster against Morton and the bullpen. The rest of the lineup went just 5-30.

Early Damage Control

The most crucial point of the game occurred in third inning. After two quick frames, Morton found himself batting control issues and adversity. With a run already in, and the bases loaded, the American League home run champion Luke Voit stood in the box. One swing of his bat could put the Yankees out in front and force the Rays bullpen to stir. After falling behind in the count 3-0, Morton was able fill the count and induce an inning-ending groundout. The score would remain tied at one, leading to the big fourth inning for the Rays.

No Small Ball

The Rays had two key at-bats that had Rays fans saying “no…yes”. The first was Kiermaier’s big three-run homer in the fourth. Following a lead-off single and walk, Kiermaier came to the plate with first and second and no outs. Surely the struggling lefty would lay down a bunt right?  On the first pitch of the at-bat, the exact opposite happened. Tanaka threw a spinning breaking ball right into the happy zone for a lefty. When the ball landed, the Rays would be ahead 4-1.

The second one took place in the sixth and included Kiermaier again. His lead-off double had nine hole hitter Michael Perez due up. After failing to bunt Kiermaier over on the first two pitches, he got the green light to swing away. He did not disappoint as he drove an 0-2 offering into the left field bleachers for a two-run homer.

Stars Are Shining

Giancarlo Stanton is no stranger to hitting the long ball, but what he is doing right is jaw-dropping. His two-run homer in the eighth was his sixth home run and he is showing no signs of slowing down. The Yankee lineup makes it hard to pitch around anyone but the baseball looks like a beach ball to Stanton right now. Rays will be proceeding with caution going forward.

A lesser-known player is showing the world who he is and that man is Randy Arozarena. In three games, he is 8-12 with three home runs. His contact is loud and his hands are as fast as his legs. After two singles, a solo home run, and a four-pitch walk, he finally grounded out. After taking off his helmet following the third out, his smile showed even his own disbelief that he was finally retired. That’s how hot he has been.

Up Next

Game Four is scheduled for Thursday at 7:10 Eastern.

The Yankees are facing elimination and will send southpaw Jordan Montgomery to the mound. In his last start against the Rays, he didn’t make it out of the first inning, allowing four runs on five hits, including two two-run homers. To force a Game Five, the Yankees will need him to be much sharper this time around.

The Rays will be going with an opener in Ryan Thompson. Ryan Yarbrough, who has not seen any action in the playoffs thus far, could be in line to handle the bulk innings.

Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images