Rays 2, Yankees 1
With Game Five on the line, the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees were wondering who would be the hero. After one solo homer for each side, the Rays headed to the bottom of the eighth with their big bats due up. One out into the inning, the stage was set for Aroldis Chapman and Mike Brosseau part two. The history was there, and this at-bat would be one to circle no matter the outcome. Behind 0-2, Brosseau clawed his way back to a 3-2 count. On pitch 10, he squared up a triple-digit fastball and lined it over the left field wall.
Three outs later, and the Rays were celebrating an edge-of-your-seat, drama-filled Game Five victory.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone and Rays manager Kevin Cash knew they had to pull out all the stops to come out ahead in Game Five. Boone’s decisions were right and pretty straightforward. Hand the ball to your stud and ride him for as long as he can go. After a near go-ahead homer by Randy Arozarena, Gerrit Cole exited one out into the sixth. The only question was how many outs could Zack Britton and Chapman get?
Cash, on the other hand, made the bold decision to start Tyler Glasnow over Blake Snell. Glasnow was on only two days rest and Snell might have felt overlooked. Cash’s thinking was use the big right-hander to get through the lineup once and see where the game took him. Even more surprising was not seeing Snell enter the game at all. Instead Cash went to his “stable of 98s”.
In true expect-the-unexpected fashion, Nick Anderson relieved Glasnow in the third inning. Anderson, who led the team in saves, doesn’t make regular appearances before the eighth inning, let alone the third. Cash wanted him to see the big bats and give him two solid innings. Cash then went to Pete Fairbanks and Diego Castillo to finish the job. It was a brilliantly thought-out plan by the probable manager of the year.
Then comes the Brosseau insertion. The right-handed-hitting utility player came in for Ji-Man Choi in the sixth inning to face Britton. He went 2-2 in his two at-bats, and we all know how the second one finished up.
In his postgame interview, Brosseau said there was no revenge angle that factored into his game-winning homer off Chapman. Not sure many people are buying that. On September 1st, Brosseau barely escaped a 101 mph Chapman heater to the back of his head. A few minutes later, he struck out to end the game. A prolonged stare-down followed by chirping from both sides rekindled the rivalry just that much more.
Fast forward to Game Five, and everyone was thinking about that very moment. How fitting would a go-ahead home run be in this spot? The 10th pitch of his epic at-bat ended the way only baseball gods can write up. Brosseau’s blast might as well been a walk-off homer as there seemed to be no way the Rays would let this moment slip them by.
Gerrit Cole off three days rest and Tyler Glasnow on only two days was the big story coming in. Cole was brought in and paid for this very moment. No one would expect anything different than seeing him go the first and last of a five-game series. When asked after Game Four on how he was told he would get the ball for Game Five, he simply replied, “Nobody needed to tell me that”. It was a confident statement and one he backed up with his nine-strikeout, one-run outing. He gave the Yankees everything they needed and then some.
Glasnow’s name was a bit of a shock to everyone but his heart was never doubted. His 2 1/3 innings couldn’t have gone much better for Cash and the Rays. The trio of Anderson, Fairbanks, and Castillo followed him up allowing only three hits, one run, which striking out nine more Yankee hitters. When any team holds the Bronx Bombers to three hits and one run, they deserve to win.
The Tampa Bay Rays will stay put in San Diego where they will take on the Houston Astros. The Rays and Astros played a great five-game series in the 2019 ALDS, and fans should expect nothing less with a best-of-seven League Championship Series.
Pitching matchups have not been set, but the Rays are expected to go with Blake Snell in Game One. The Astros started Lance McCullers Jr in Game One of the Division Series so it would expected to see the same for the League Championship Series. McCullers will be going up against his home-town team, as he played his high school ball in the Tampa area.
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