The Yankees aren’t done yet. They beat the Rays 5-1 to force a deciding Game 5 tomorrow night in San Diego. The Bombers finally got a well pitched game from someone other than Gerrit Cole and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Let’s get to the takeaways:
Gleyber Day arrives just when the Yankees needed it. The shortstop’s 2-run homer in the sixth inning gave the Yankees some breathing room, putting the Bombers up 4-1. Up until that point, I had a lingering concern that an earlier wasted opportunity — scoring just one run after loading the bases with no one out in the second inning — would later haunt the Yankees. Thankfully it didn’t, and Gleyber’s bomb eased those concerns:
What a shot. How many dingers would the Yankees send over the Western Metal Supply Co. building if this was actually the team’s home ballpark?
Keep in mind that Gleyber fouled a ball off his shin in his previous at bat against Yarbrough. It took a while for him to get back in the box after it, too. I guess it’s safe to say he’s OK now!
By the way, Torres reached base two other times this one. Once via single, once via walk. He stole a base in the ninth and scored a run too. He had a really nice series against Cleveland last week, but had been relatively quiet until tonight against the Rays. Nice to see a big game from him tonight. Would be even better to see him carry it into tomorrow.
The bullpen’s brilliance went just as planned. After Jordan Montgomery’s strong four innings (more on that shortly), Chad Green entered. October hasn’t always been kind to Green, as you may have noticed. His career postseason ERA was up to 4.84 after allowing a couple of runs in last night’s game. Today, however, was a different story. He retired all six batters he faced and struck out two. Were there a couple of scary fly balls mixed in? Sure. But still, Green was a perfect bridge to set up Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman for the last nine outs.
Britton picked up right where Green left off. He set down all five hitters he faced in order and also struck out three. Boone yanked him with two outs and no one on in the 8th inning. In came Chapman for his first appearance of the series.
Chapman, perhaps unsurprisingly, was a bit rusty to start. He walked Brandon Lowe, which brought up the red hot Randy Arozarena. You know, the guy who absolutely obliterates fastballs. But not Chapman’s fastball. Good morning, good afternoon, goodnight:
Strike 3 was a whiff on 100.9 MPH. In the 9th, Chapman shut the door for the save. Tampa Bay went down 1-2-3.
Just an excellent job by the bullpen all around. Can’t discount how huge it was for no other reliever needing to pitch, as Boone only used the three guys he trusts most in Green, Britton, and Chapman.
I’d be remiss to not mention that Jordan Montgomery was terrific. You couldn’t have asked for much more from the lefty. Monty threw four innings and allowed just one run. Things got a little dicey in the third and fourth innings, to the point where a good argument could have been made for pulling him, but sticking with him paid off.
Montgomery looked terrific right out of the gate. Yes, he gave up a leadoff single to Yandy Díaz to start the game, but it was a week bloop single. Brandon Lowe bounced into a double play immediately thereafter and then Randy Arozarena struck out. Monty actually retired Arozarena both times he faced him, which feels like a minor miracle. That first mathchup against Arozarena showed how sharp Montgomery was early on, by the way. Take a look:
That’s just really good execution. Didn’t give him a thing to hit.
Montgomery started to crack in that third frame against the Rays’ 7-8-9 hitters, who’ve given the Bombers trouble all series. With the Yanks up 2-0, he walked Willy Adames to start the frame and then gave up a double to Kevin Kiermaier on an 0-2 count. The lefty did rebound to fan Mike Zunino, but promptly walked Díaz on four pitches to load ’em up with one out.
At this point, you could understand Montgomery staying in to face the lefty Brandon Lowe. But I don’t think any of us expected him to stick around any longer. Montgomery induced a run scoring fielder’s choice to cut the lead to 2-1, which brought up Arozarena. A second look at Tampa Bay’s hottest hitter in a do or die game? Seemed like prime time to pull Monty, but Boone gambled. We’ve seen him get burned leaving guys in too long before, but not this time as Arozarena bounced out. Who’d have thought that Monty would be Arozarena’s kryptonite?
Montgomery allowed a couple of baserunners in the fourth inning but came away unscathed. Ji-Man Choi rocketed a leadoff single and Willy Adames worked a two out walk, but Montgomery worked out of it to end his night. Job well done. Better than anyone could have expected, I think.
- An early lead was just what they needed. Luke Voit set the tone with a solo homer in the second inning against Rays’ opener Ryan Thompson. It was a blast. Have to imagine that eased any nerves the team may have had entering this one.
- AJ Soprano voice: What, no [bleepin’] home run? Giancarlo Stanton’s home run streak is over. He went 1-for-4 with a double. Ho hum. Stanton had homered in all five games this postseason entering tonight.
- It doesn’t look like Kyle Higashioka will sit anytime soon. The backstop went 2-for-4, including an RBI single in the 9th to make it 5-1. He also made a handful of nice blocks on 55 footers from Montgomery in this one. Now, he did come up empty with the bases loaded and no one out in the second inning (a strikeout), but overall you couldn’t ask much more from him. Gary Sánchez will have to wait for another opportunity, for now.
- Better luck tomorrow: Aaron Judge and Gio Urshela combined to go 0-for-7 tonight, though both walked. It’s been a rough ALDS for the two of them, but there’s no better time to break out than in tomorrow’s Game 5.
It’s winner takes all for tomorrow’s Game 5. Gerrit Cole gets the ball. It doesn’t get much better than that. Have a good night, everyone.