Shots were fired early in the night at Petco Park as the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays battled it out in Game 1 of the American League Division Series.
The Yankees were all too familiar with an offensensive duel, especially after their boisterous win against the Cleveland Indians in Game 2 of the Wild Card series. However, that came to an end once Giancarlo Stanton obliterated the scoreboard to give the Yankees a 9-3 lead for the win.
Stanton launched a 86-mph slider to straight-away center field for a long grand slam that gave the Yankees the insurance runs they needed to put the game away. The 30-year-old designated hitter has been able to homer in his third straight game and in four of the last five postseason games.
“You know what’s at stake. Everyone in there knows that we have a job to do. What’s going to make us successful and what’s not. There is a plan in place and it’s always difficult to always execute it. But as long as you understand it and get it done down the line and I think when you see the guy ahead of you get it done, that’s another extra boost when you step in there and that’s what we’re doing.”
The Yankees dugout exploded with excitement as Stanton rounded the bases, stunning the American League East division winners and disintegrated any hopes the Rays had of snagging Game 1. It was the first time the Yankees hit grand slams in back-to-back games.
“I feel great for him. I know this is what I envisioned for him last year,” Aaron Boone said on Stanton’s postseason performance thus far. “I felt like he was in such a good place from his at-bats, we saw it again this year and now carrying it into the postseason, he’s such a dangerous hitter in the middle of our lineup and I just feel like his at-bat quality when he came back off the IL, picked right up, and then he had a few games there where he scuffled a little bit but then locked back in for the playoffs. when he’s controlling the strike zone he’s as deadly as anyone.”
The Yankees rallied behind the longball to give them the runs they needed to make a statement against 2018 CY Young winner Blake Snell and the Rays. Four home runs on Monday night gave the Yankees a total of 11 home runs through three postseason games, the most by any team in the postseason through three games, according to MLB statistics analyst Sarah Langs.
Clint Frazier made a statement quick in his first postseason start in the Yankees lineup. In his second postseason game, Frazier clobbered a 96-mph fastball from Blake Snell 418-feet into the second deck to give the Yankees a one-run edge in the third inning. Yankees catcher Kyle Higashioka and right fielder Aaron Judge launched baseball’s into the seats in the top of the fifth, with Judge’s home run reaching an exit velocity of 110-mph.
The Rays struck Yankees starting pitcher Gerrit Cole with power, going yard with two home runs from Randy Arozarena and Ji-Man Choi. Though, it was not enough momentum to put a damper on his confidence. The ace struck out eight batters through six innings, with a pitch topping 100.1-mph.
The Yankees will face the Rays Tuesday night at Petco Park at 8:10 EDT and place 21-year-old rookie pitcher Deivi García on the mound against right handed pitcher Tyler Glasnow. At 21 years and 140 days old, the Bonao, Dominican Republic native, who idolizes Red Sox Hall of Famer Pedro Martínez, will become the youngest Yankees pitcher to pitch in a postseason game.
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