The Rays are heading to the ALCS thanks to one of the greatest performances in franchise history. The pitching did everything it needed to do, and the offense gave the Rays just enough to advance.
And the how is so, so sweet.
With the ballgame tied 1-1, in a showdown of some of the best pitchers baseball has to offer, Aroldis Chapman took the mound for the New York Yankees in the eighth inning, a pitcher as infamous for acts of physical violence off the field as he is for a violent 102 mph fastball on the mound.
Among the hitters he would face was Mike Brosseau. And there was history to this moment.
During a Yankees losing streak against the Rays during the regular season (they would lose eight of ten meetings), the Bronx Bombers tried time and again to coax the Rays players into a fight, rushing the dugout and chirping throughout games, but most egregiously by intentionally throwing at players.
No moment was more poignant of the Yankees frustration and impotence than this pitch against Mike Brosseau:
Another tough guy throwing at someone for seemingly no reason, damn well knowing he doesn’t have to get in the box. It’s so tired. pic.twitter.com/sTPVtRBKgv— Trevor Plouffe (@trevorplouffe) September 2, 2020
The Tampa Bay coaching staff stepped in and channeled the wrath of the players, leading the charge out of the dugout while keeping the players away from a fight. If that pitch had made contact with Brosseau’s head, it could have ended his career, and every Rays player knew it.
After the game, Kevin Cash did not mince his words:
Here's the full #Rays Cash quote: "I can assure you, other than three years ago, there hasn't been one pitch thrown with intent from any of our guys. Somebody has to be accountable and the last thing I'll say is I have a whole damn stable full of guys that throw 98 mph."— Juan Toribio (@juanctoribio) September 2, 2020
It’s from this glorious post-game interview we have The Stable. The 98ers. The horsemen. Fines would be issued to Chapman and Cash, as if Chpaman’s actions were equal to Cash’s words. The Rays let their actions on the field to the rest of the talking in the regular season, and these exchanges set up a homerun that will live for generations in the minds of Rays and Yankees fans alike.
Before that historic moment, though, Mike Brosseau entered Game 4 of the ALDS against Chapman and was the final out. Despite working a full count against New York’s closer, he struck out on a 100 mph pitch above the zone; valuable experience.
Mike Brosseau entered Game 5 of the ALDS in the sixth inning, stepping in for Ji-Man Choi once left handed reliever Zack Britton replaced Gerrit Cole. The first pitch was in the dirt, and the next was below the zone, but it was hittable and Brosseau knocked a single. He stayed in the game at first base, and met his moment with karma in the eighth.
With the ballgame tied 1-1, and Chapman on the mound, a battle began. It starts with a two-strike count, lasts ten pitches, and you already know the result.
Here's the 10-pitch, ALDS-clinching at-bat between Mike Brosseau and Aroldis Chapman:— Daniel Kramer (@DKramer_) October 10, 2020
• Went down 0-2
• Fouled 4 pitches (2 sliders, 2 at 99 mph)
• Spit on a 2-2 heater inside
• HR off 100.2 mph fastball pic.twitter.com/mvZW1tewrN
Look at that zone!
One can’t help but smile.
And one can’t help but celebrate.
For us, that means t-shirts — so I present to you Mike Brosseau’s Revenge!
If you asked the player himself, he wouldn’t call it revenge. If you ask his teammates? Yeah, this is what they called it. Sweet Justice was the Radio call. Revenge was the word of the day.