For eight innings, the Yankees and Rays played a closely contested affair. The pitcher’s duel between Gerrit Cole and Blake Snell didn’t go quite as expected, but both pitchers kept it close and New York held a slight edge heading into a battle of the bullpens. Then the ninth inning happened, and the Yankees blew the game wide open.
The ALDS begins in favor of New York after a 9-3 victory, and the Bombers are two games away from a return to the ALCS. Things theoretically get tougher from here, with the Yankees ace unavailable until a hypothetical Game Five, but the success that the team had against the stables is a promising start.
Winners of the Game
Giancarlo Stanton is back, pitchers beware. The Yankees slugger gave the team all of the insurance runs they needed with one swing, blasting a grand slam in the ninth inning. The Rays had already given up a run earlier in the inning on an Aaron Hicks hit, but this was the shot that decided the game.
Stanton’s blast capped off a night of Yankee bombs, beginning in the third inning with Clint Frazier off of Snell. Snell also served up shots to Kyle Higashioka and Aaron Judge, giving the Yankees a small lead through the middle innings.
Honorable Mentions: Gio Urshela, DJ LeMahieu, Hicks
Loser of the Game
This wasn’t a perfect game by any means. Gerrit Cole struggled with his spots several times, and served up a couple of bombs himself — including another home run given up to Ji-Man Choi. That being said, Cole did his job, which was to get the Yankees to the back of their bullpen with the lead. It hardly seems fair to criticize him for that, even if he wasn’t as strong as he was against Cleveland.
Honorable Mention: Kevin Cash’s bullpen decisions. It seems very odd to give John Curtiss the ninth inning while down only one run.