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Rays 2, Yankees 1: The Stable Rules

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Rays executed game plan perfectly, move on to ALCS

Division Series - New York Yankees v Tampa Bay Rays - Game Five Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Let me apologize ahead of time for any typos. I have never written a recap through tears.

It’s great to win the ALDS, of course! Fans of any team heading to the next level are excited.

But to win the rubber game...like this? LIKE THIS? This is Game 162 kind of special. Savor it, friends. In the midst of a very tough year the Rays have given us a moment of pure joy.

I swear I took careful pitch by pitch notes. But the overall drama of this game — the pitching, the dramatic finish — overwhelms any desire for dissection.

Instead, let’s look at the longer arc of this game.

The Yankees? Well, they had the best pitcher in the majors starting for them. Sure, he was on short rest, but still, he was very much vintage Gerrit Cole. After a tough first inning when he loaded the bases on two walks and a hit by pitch (but struck out two to end the threat), he was cruising. For many of us the Rays failure to score that inning seemed really fateful, because for several innings after that they had no chances at all. In fact, the Rays were being no-hit until the fifth.

The Rays approach to pitching today was methodical. They had planned out exactly how they would get to 27 outs lacking anyone able to throw deep into the game. They had started Tyler Glasnow, a pitcher who can be dominant but who was pitching on a mere two days rest. Cash did not use him as a traditional starter; he was there to get the team one time through the Yankees order — seven outs — that that he did, yielding to Nick Anderson in the third.

The always amazing Anderson got eight of those outs, for the longest outing of his major league career. He did give up a home run to Aaron Judge — kind of a cheapy home run, but hey those count. Given how little offense the Rays were generating you would be forgiven if, back in the fourth inning, you had worried that the 1-0 Yankee lead could be the final score.

But the Rays finally broke through the following inning, with Austin Meadows ending the no hitter and tying the score with a home run. Meadows had been scuffling this series so getting a key run from him was welcomed. That ended Cole’s night.

Aaron Judge made a play for the ball, but the padding on top of the outfield wall was in his way — not that he was likely to reach the ball anyway.

I am sure somewhere a Yankee fan is asserting that the designers of Petco Park foresaw this moment and are out to get them.

The score remained 1-1 as the the Rays pitchers continued to put up zeroes. Following Anderson, Fairbanks registered six outs; and then Diego Castillo came in to pitch two of the best innings we’ve seen from him, completely clutch, to finish out the game. Cash had both Snell and Morton warming, and I for one am glad we don’t need to find out whether either of those starters could close out a game, or who would have been called upon to pitch Sunday’s ALCS opening if they had both been needed tonight.

But the reason Diego had a game to close out was that the Rays went up 2-1 in the eighth. Aaron Boone went early to Chapman, with one out to go in the seventh inning. And as usual he seemed very much in command, getting the last out of the seventh and first out of the eighth.

Up second — Mike Brosseau. Our undrafted utility guy, he’d come in as a pinch hitter for Choi and remained in the game. You may recall a bit of drama involving Brosseau and Chapman earlier this season? And may recall that Brosseau got his “revenge” the way players ought to, with two home runs the next day? So of course Mike Brosseau comes up against Chapman at this must win moment. And gets down 0-2 as one is wont to do. And patiently takes a few, fouls a few, and on the tenth pitch of the at bat drives a 100.2 mph fastball just beyond the left centerfield fence.

Are you kidding me?

Rays up 2-1.

Castillo came back for the ninth and made the Yankees look stupid, just how we like it. Game over, ALCS here we come!

One of the fun things about this series and in particular this game has been watching the wider baseball world recognize just how good this team is. In many cases I’d say they have come around reluctantly — weren’t those “Yankees win” narratives already pre-written? But I’ll leave you with some reactions pulled from Twitter for your enjoyment.

When the wider world meets our Mike:

When the wider world meets our stable:

When the wider world meets our Glasnow:

Some final reactions: