By: Billy Lewis
The Tampa Bay Rays enter Friday night on the verge of the American League Pennant. They lead the ALCS 3-2 against the Houston Astros. This has been a frustrating ALCS for fans of the New York Yankees.
Last week the Yankees were riding high. They had a great come from behind win to sweep the Cleveland Indians in the Wild Card Series. Game One of the Divison Series against the Rays, was a Yankees 9-3 win. It was a perfect Yankees win, Gerrit Cole got the start and Giancarlo Stanton gave it an exclamation point with a grand slam in the ninth.
The Yankees problems began quickly into Game Two. Deivi Garcia made history becoming the youngest Yankee to start a playoff game, at only 21 years old! Garcia pitched a good first inning. He retired the first two Rays before Randy Arozarena hit a two-out home run. Stanton tied the game with a home run in the second inning.
At the time I thought that would be a huge home run. Not only did it tie the game but I figured it would help to settle Garcia down as well. Unfortunately, we never got to see Stanton’s home run’s effect on Garcia. JA Happ entered the game in the second for the Yankees.
The Yankees wanted to get cute and used Garcia as an opener, instead of just letting him start. It felt like a bad move at the time. Not surprisingly it did prove to be ill-fated. Happ struggled in relief and took the loss. Garcia or Happ would have been far better served to go the role of traditional starter.
They say hindsight is 20-20. Sure, it would be easy to say after the fact that they should have kept Garcia in. However, most fans and analysts saw at the time it was a bad move. In hindsight, it very well looks like the move that doomed the Yankees season.
The Rays used the momentum of their Game Two win to pounce on the Yankees, winning Game Three 8-4. The Bombers would be able to bounce back, winning Game 4 5-1.
The Yankees were able to send out ace Gerrit Cole, for the winner take all Game 5. Cole had a gutsy performance. Cole took the ball on short rest. An Austin Meadows solo home run was the only damage against Cole. As has been the case in recent seasons, the Yankees offense disappeared in a crucial game.
The Bombers only managed a run, with an Aaron Judge home run. That was paired with another late home run given up by Aroldis Chapman when Mike Brosseau took him deep in the 8th.
The Yankees lost Game 5 2-1, concluding yet another disappointing season for the Bombers and their fans.