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ALDS Game 2: Rays 7, Yankees 5

Nick Anderson saves the day

Division Series - New York Yankees v Tampa Bay Rays - Game Two Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

After a gut-wrenching Game 1 defeat, the Rays looked to Tyler Glasnow to even up the series with the Yankees and avoid a 2-0 deficit. The Yankees went with young rookie Deivi Garcia to open the game, but quickly turned to J.A. Happ to pitch the bulk innings.

The lineups tasked with hitting these pitchers were as such:

The Rays needed to come out with some urgency given the way Game 1 ended. Tyler Glasnow and Randy Arozorena provided those first inning sparks.

Arozorena’s home run was the fifth straight ball he’s hit 100 MPH or harder, absolutely locked in.

Sadly that lead didn’t last too long, as Giancarlo Stanton launched a missile into right field.

A launch of 15 degrees is just about as low an angle as you’re going to see on a home run. Glasnow did manage to bounce back in the inning with a couple strikeouts to keep the game tied at 1-1.

J.A. Happ took over for Garcia in the second inning and the Rays kept the playoff slugfest going. With two outs, Mike Zunino roped a two-run home run into left field to give the Rays a 3-1 lead. Despite hitting .147 with a 44% strikeout rate during the regular season, Zunino has come up with a couple big postseason home runs.

Glasnow came back with a shutdown third inning, and the Rays rewarded him with more runs. Manuel Margot launched a tank 411 feet to dead center, extending the lead to 5-1.

The extra runs wound up being necessary. Aaron Hicks singled to lead off the top of the fourth inning, and Glasnow lost Luke Voit on a four pitch walk. Stanton went on to hit one of the more impressive home runs you’ll see, sending one deep to left center field for a three-run home run.

All of a sudden the Yankees were right back on the Rays’ heel. Luckily Glasnow responded with three straight strikeouts. The lead sat at 5-4.

Another threat was mounted against Happ in the bottom half of the fourth inning. Arozorena got a hit (again), Choi walked (again) and Tsutsugo came up in a pinch hitting opportunity and two men on base. Clint Frazier took a circuitous route on a Yoshi fly ball to end the inning and stave off the threat.

Turning to J.A. Happ in the bulk role did not work out quite as well as the Yankees would have hoped. He gave up four runs in two and two thirds innings of work, along with the two home runs.

Glasnow looked dominant again in the fifth inning, retiring the side in order and getting D.J. LeMahieu and Aaron Judge to swing over the top of a couple great curveballs. With Adam Ottavino on the mound for the bottom of the fifth inning, Wendle got on with a single and quickly swiped second base. Jonathan Loaisiga came in to replace Ottavino, but Kiermaier greeted him with a single to bring Wendle home and extend the Rays lead to 6-4.

Glasnow went back out for the sixth but was pulled after a lead off walk to Aaron Hicks. Diego Castillo came in to clean the inning up, getting Voit and Stanton to strikeout on sliders and retiring Urshela.

Despite succumbing to the thunderous bat of Giancarlo Stanton, Glasnow pitched well and gave the Rays what they needed. With five innings and ten strikeouts and leaving the game with a lead, it was a good night.

Austin Meadows led off the sixth with a home run to center field. After battling COVID prior to the season, struggling to a .205/.296/.371 slash line during the season and then suffering an oblique injury at the end of the season, it was great to see Meadows get into one in a postseason game. The Rays led 7-4.

Cash tried squeezing a second inning out Castillo, but he let up two baserunners. And then Nick Anderson came in and let it eat. He beat Gary Sanchez at the top of the zone with a fastball, froze LeMahieu on a fastball on the outer edge and got Judge chasing a breaking ball in the dirt.

His outing showed why you use your best relievers in the highest leverage moments and don’t save them for a specific inning, especially in a game of this magnitude. Per fangraphs, Gary Sanchez’s at-bat in the seventh was the highest leverage moment of the game prior to Fairbanks’ troubles in the ninth. Oh, and then he came back out for the eighth and retired the side on nine pitches. Best reliever in baseball.

The ninth inning would not come nearly as easily. Fairbanks struggled to find the zone with his triple digit heat. Urshela got on with a walk and Torres got on with another walk. He managed to rain it back in, however. Clint Frazier went down swinging on a high heater and Sanchez got beat on a fastball over the middle of the plate. D.J. Lemahieu squared a ball up for an RBI single, but Fairbanks came back to get Judge on a ground ball. It was Fairbanks’ second save of the postseason and it secured the 7-5 win.

The story of the night, similar to seemingly every game so far in the divisional series, was about home runs. Like almost every game this postseason, the team that out homered the other picked up the victory, and the Rays did just that in this one.

In what may have been a must-win game, the Rays battled their way to tie the series at 1-1. They’ll send veteran Charlie Morton to the mound tomorrow night at 7:10 p.m. ET for game 3, and the Rays’ bats will have to deal with Masahiro Tanaka.