The Yankees decision to start Deivi García in Game Two against the Rays was already interesting, but it got even more so fairly quickly after the game began. Pretty early in the first, J.A. Happ began warming up in the bullpen and it became clear that the 21-year old was being used as an opener and/or an attempt at a bait and switch against a lefty-heavy Rays’ lineup.
Whether or not you think it was a good idea is debatable, what’s not is that it did not work out as intended. Happ struggled, allowing four runs in 2.2 innings and had a hard time against the lefties he was brought in to neutralize. As a result of that and some other less than great outings from Yankee relievers, they were left playing catch up for most of that game.
Giancarlo Stanton nearly did it himself, hitting two home runs and driving in four runs, but the rest of the team combined for just three hits outside of him. There was plenty to be upset about as the Yankees dropped Game Two with a 7-5 loss to the Rays.
Before the bait and switch ever happened, the Rays struck first against García. The rookie retired the first two hitters he faced, but Randy Arozarena homered off him to get the Rays on the board early. The Yankees’ deficit didn’t last long as Giancarlo Stanton led off the following top of the second with a solo shot of his own.
The surprise opener situation came to fruition as Happ came in to start the second. Happ’s first inning was less than ideal as he allowed a two-run home run to Mike Zunino after getting on the verge of getting out of the inning. It got worse in the third when he allowed another two-run shot, this one to Manuel Margot.
The Yankees cut into the Rays’ lead, and it was a familiar face doing the damage. Aaron Hicks single and Luke Voit walked to kick off the inning, bringing Stanton back to the plate. Stanton then absolutely demolished a baseball 458 feet for his fifth home run of the playoffs, also getting the Yankees back within a run.
Happ’s day would come to an end after allowing two runners to reach with two outs in the bottom of the fourth. He issued three walks, all to the lefties they were hoping he held in check. It was not what the Yankees were hoping for. Adam Ottavino came in for Happ and finished off the inning, keeping the deficit with a run.
Ottavino came back out for the fifth and walked the leadoff hitter and got one out, leading to Aaron Boone going back to the bullpen. Jonathan Loaisiga came in and allowed a RBI single to the first batter he faced in Kevin Kiermaier. Loaisiga was later brought back for the sixth but gave up a homer to Austin Meadows to lead off the inning.
The Yankees had two legit shot at a rally in the final couple innings. The more substantive of the two came in the ninth when they had two on and nobody out. They got one run out of that spot thanks to a DJ LeMahieu RBI single, but that would be it as the Rays finished things off (with some strike zone help).
If this strategy had worked, the Yankees would look like geniuses right now. However, it did not, and now plenty of fans are totally understandably disappointed. Nothing can be done about it, and now they’re going to need postseason magic from Masahiro Tanaka tomorrow.