As advertised, the American League Division Series between the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees has produced great hitting, great pitching and a healthy dose of hate for fans to enjoy. This series is an all-out war between two forces in the AL. Behind Tyler Glasnow’s fifth straight win, the Rays tied the series 1-1 by a final score of 7-5.
The story coming into Game 2 was whether or not Rays’ co-ace Glasnow could keep the Yankees’ hitters in check. And other than Yankee DH Giancarlo Stanton, the answer in Game 2 was a resounding yes. Tampa Bay drew first blood as rookie phenom Randy Arozarena collected his fourth hit of the series with a solo home run off Yankee starter Deivi Garcia. After tying the game on a Stanton solo shot in the top of the second, the Yankees lifted Garcia for veteran JA Happ, which proved to be an unforced error for manager Aaron Boone. Happ lasted only two and a third innings, allowing four runs on five hits and three walks to give the Rays a 5-1 lead. Stanton once again answered with a three-run blast of his own, but the Rays would hold on to win the game 7-5 while mostly dominating the Yankees on the mound.
Rays manager Kevin Cash should be commended for how well he uses his pitching staff. Deploying five total pitchers in Game 2, the Rays struck out the Yankees 18 times with 10 from Glasnow, which is the highest K total in a nine-inning playoff game ever. They now lead all teams in the playoffs with 47 strikeouts as a staff. Offensively, Cash’s team answered the bell as well. Tampa Bay hit four home runs on eight total hits and four walks. Arozarena also continues to dominate Yankee pitching as he’s collected five hits, two home runs, three total runs and two RBI’s in eight at-bats this series. The only concern for the Rays right now is that their best hitter Brandon Lowe continues to struggle offensively. Lowe is hitting .133 in the postseason with four strikeouts and zero RBI’s. If Lowe starts hitting, Tampa Bay is as good as any team left in the postseason.
On the other side, the Yankees endured their first poor offensive showing of the playoffs. For all the Yankees not named Stanton, who homered twice and drove in four runs, they collected only three hits while striking out 17 times and leaving 16 men on base. The Rays have great pitching, but that output is unacceptable against any team. And yet, the Yankees still managed to score five runs. They should feel confident that they can rebound if they get back to their game plan of controlling the strike zone and punishing fastballs, which they can with the depth in their lineup. Both encouraging and concerning for the Yankees is that Stanton has now accounted for eight of the team’s 14 runs in the series. The rest of the team (particularly Aaron Judge who has only one hit in 10 plate appearances against Tampa Bay) will need to find their groove offensively if they hope to win this series.
Game 3 will be played at 7:10 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Oct. 7 with Masahiro Tanaka and Charlie Morton pitching for the Yankees and Rays, respectively.