What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? Apparently you get a five-game division series between the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays. Both teams have been able to flex their strengths throughout the series, but New York hung on to win Game 4 by a score of 5-1 and even the series at 2-2.
The Yankees began the game with lefty Jordan Montgomery, who pitched four strong innings of one-run baseball. The Rays countered with opener Ryan Thompson, who struggled with command and allowed two runs in one and two thirds innings. With the Yankees up 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Gleyber Torres launched a two-run home run off of Ryan Yarbrough to widen the Yankee lead to 4-1. The Yankees added an additional run and used all their high-leverage bullpen arms to get the final 15 outs of the game to win by a final score of 5-1.
Everyone knew the Yankees could hit, but for the first time in the series, New York was able to outpitch Tampa Bay. Montgomery, Chad Green, Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman allowed just one total run on three hits with 11 strikeouts. The bullpen trio of Green, Britton and Chapman was particularly excellent, throwing five no-hit innings. The offense was strong as well, with every Yankee hitter except Aaron Judge and Gio Urshela recording at least one hit. Luke Voit, the MLB home run leader throughout the regular season, hit his first career playoff homer, which is a very good sign for the Yankee offense. Gleyber Torres also turned in a strong game with two hits, two runs, two RBIs and a walk. The Yankees played their first complete game of the series.
What had worked for the Rays through three games of the ALDS had been their pitching and depth hitting, both of which struggled in Game 4. The Rays mustered only three hits in the game and struck out 11 times. Brandon Lowe, who had been the Rays best hitter in the regular season, remains hitless in the series. He did walk in the 8th inning, but he also struck out and left three men on base throughout the game. Meanwhile, Randy Arazorena finally fell back down to Earth with two strikeouts and no hits in his four plate appearances. Luckily for the Rays, they never tapped into their best bullpen arms, so all of their relievers should be rested for Game 5.
Game 5 will be played on Friday Oct., 9 at 7:10 p.m. Eastern. Gerrit Cole of the Yankees will face off against Blake Snell of the Rays.
The instant classic American League Division Series between the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays is finally over and the Rays came out on top. They used their excellent pitching depth and clutch hitting to win a tightly contested 2-1 game over New York. They will head to their first AL Championship Series since 2008 and face the Houston Astros.
The Rays began the game with starter Tyler Glasnow, who gave them two and a third scoreless innings before turning it over to their loaded bullpen. The Yankees countered with their ace Gerrit Cole, who played on three-days rest for the first time in his career. Though Cole looked off in the first inning, he was able to escape a bases-loaded jam to keep the game scoreless. He pitched five and a third innings with nine strikeouts, but eventually did allow a solo home run to Austin Meadows in the fifth inning when the Yankees held a 1-0 lead from an Aaron Judge homer off Nick Anderson. From there, both teams aggressively deployed their bullpens but ultimately, the Yankees lost that battle. Mike Brosseau sent a fastball from Aroldis Chapman into the seats to give the Rays the last lead they’d need in the series. Given that Brosseau and Chapman were previously at the center of a bench-clearing brawl earlier in the regular season, it was a fitting end to an excellent series.
The Rays won on the strength of their pitching staff. The Yankees had scored at least nine runs in each of their first three playoff games, but in games 2-5 of the ALDS, the Rays held New York to 3.75 runs-per-game. In Game 5, both teams had only three hits and at least 11 strikeouts, but the Rays were ultimately able to secure the win. The better team won the series. They will move on to face the red hot Houston Astros with ace Blake Snell likely to pitch in Game 1. The Rays and Astros met in last year’s ALDS with the Astros winning in five games. Tampa Bay will want redemption.
For the second straight year, the Yankees season has ended on a home run off of closer Aroldis Chapman. That being said, it’s hard to blame the Yankee pitchers for the Game 5 result. New York’s hitters struggled mightily against a full-strength Rays bullpen. They scored one run on three hits and four walks. Aaron Judge, Luke Voit and Gio Urshela hit a combined 1/10 in Game 5 and all finished the series with a sub-.150 batting average. The Yankees live and die on their offense and some of their biggest bats just couldn’t get it done when it mattered most. They now head into an uncertain and pivotal offseason as three of their starting pitchers (Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton and JA Happ), team MVP DJ LeMahieu and the club’s emotional leader Brett Gardner will all be free agents. The team is still young, but the makeup of the Yankees roster could change drastically over the next few months.
Game 1 of the ALCS between the Rays and Astros will be played on Sunday, Oct. 11 at 7:37 p.m. Eastern.