Playoff Recap – Friday, 10/9

What a nerve-racking, pitchers' duel in a postseason classic.

The division series has flown by extremely quickly this year, with just one series making it to Game 5: the Rays vs. Yankees. Yesterday, they played in a dramatic winner-take-all elimination game to cap off their first ever postseason series against each other.

So far this postseason in the American League, the team that hits the most home runs has not lost. This has especially been the case in the Rays vs. Yankees series, which saw 16 homers in the first four games. But for Game 5, each team had their full elite pitching arsenals ready to be weaponized at a moment’s notice.

After nine incredibly intense innings, we had a winner. The score?

 

Rays 2, Yankees 1

 

What a pitchers’ duel this was. Each team threw out their aces on very short rest: Tyler Glasnow had just two days rest, whileĀ Gerrit Cole had three days. This was a rematch of the previous ALDS Game 5 in 2019 between the Astros and Rays, where Cole came out the winner after eight strong innings as Glasnow struggled early on. While Cole wanted to build upon his October legacy with another huge elimination game win, Glasnow hoped for postseason redemption.

Cole struggled early on, pitching at a much more deliberate pace in the first inning as his stuff wasn’t quite there. The Rays worked two walks with a HBP on Randy Arozarena, who already hit a homer off Cole in Game 1 as he now stared Cole down while walking to first base.

These walks loaded the bases with two outs in a critical opportunity for Joey Wendle. With the count full, Cole threw a huge heater to catch Wendle looking and end the threat.

Cole couldn’t contain his emotion.

 

Meanwhile, Glasnow came out throwing heat, regularly touching 101 MPH as he neutralized the Yankees’ bats over 2.2. IP with 2 K, 2 BB and no hits.

After Glasnow, Kevin Cash turned it over to arguably the best bullpen in baseball, using his top relievers early in the game to keep the score as close as possible. First, he went to Nick Anderson, who had held the Yankees hitless in five previous appearances in 2020.

But Aaron Judge led off the fourth inning with a solo shot that barely found itself over the wall to put the Yankees up 1 – 0.

This was the only real blemish on Anderson’s great 2.2 innings of work, where he allowed just one other hit and no walks while recording two strikeouts.

Meanwhile, Cole was dealing, carrying a no-hitter in the fifth inning. The Rays had been working his pitch count pretty high, thanks to tough at-bats by hitters like Yandy Diaz andĀ Joey Wendle. After getting two quick outs in the fifth, Cole faced off againstĀ Austin Meadows. And on Cole’s 91st pitch of the evening, a 96 MPH fastball that caught way too much of the plate, Meadows hit a high fly ball to right.

Judge ran to the warning track and tried to time his jump. But PETCO Park is unfamiliar territory for the Yankees’ right fielder, and he hit his head on the extended padding of the outfield wall, preventing Judge from robbing the game-tying home run. The Rays had tied the score 1 – 1.

In the fifth inning, the Rays turned it over toĀ Pete Fairbanks, who pitched the ninth inning in Game 2 in a wild appearance that initially saw him struggle to find the zone, giving up back-to-back leadoff walks, before he successfully closed out the game.

Fairbanks struggled again, finding himself with runners on first and second with two outs. But as a prominent member of “The Stable“, Fairbanks threw 100 MPH up in the zone past Luke Voit to escape the inning without any damage.

Arozarena led off the next half-inning, hoping to get revenge for that first inning HBP. He crushed the first pitch from Cole, a hanging breaking ball, to left field. But Brett Gardner was there to make an incredible catch and keep the score tied.

After this at-bat, the Yankees turned it over to their best reliever, Zack Britton, as Cole’s arch-nemeses, Ji-Man Choi, was on deck. Cole had an electric start (5.1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 9 K), but Choi hits Cole better than any hitter in baseball.

The Rays responded by bringing in pinch-hitterĀ Mike Brosseau, who promptly singled off Britton. Britton then gave up a walk to DĆ­az before recording two quick outs to get out of trouble.

Both offenses were relatively silent as the Rays and Yankees eventually went with their next best relievers, Diego Castillo andĀ Aroldis Chapman, to pitch two+ innings and hopefully keep the score tied.

In the bottom of the eighth with one out, Brosseau stepped up to face Chapman in a dramatic rematch. The last time these two faced each other was on Thursday, when Chapman struck out Brosseau to end the game and clinch a Yankees win in Game 4. But the time before that?

Sept. 1. Chapman threw a 101 MPH fastball up-and-in against Brosseau that caused tensions to flare and benches to clear.

 

In Game 5, Brosseau quickly found himself down 0 – 2. Chapman tried to finish him off by throwing his entire arsenal at Brosseau, from sliders to splitters to heaters. But Brosseau kept fouling tough pitches off and taking close borderline balls. Soon enough, the count was full.

On the 10th pitch of the AB, Chapman tried to blow another heater past him. But Brosseau had caught up to the fastball, and he sent it into the left field stands to put the Rays up 2 – 1 in the biggest moment of his young career.

That was all that Tampa needed, as Castillo easily retired the Yankees 1-2-3 in the ninth to send the Rays to their first ALCS since 2008.

What a way to cap off a dramatic series between these two divisional rivals. Game 5 surely lived up to the hype.

Next up for the Rays: the Houston Astros. These two will face off in ALCS Game 1 tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. EST/4:30 p.m. PST.

See you then for more October baseball!

 

 

 

 

Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)

Alex Kleinman

Journalist who loves the Yankees and the Bears. One gives me strength, the other leads me to existential dread. When I'm not obsessing over baseball, you can find me at a concert, hiking in a National Park or chasing my dog, Frankie, who has probably stolen one of my socks.

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