With the New York Yankees’ lifeline fading, the Bombers used their defibrillating bats and prominent pitching sequences to their advantage in Game 4 of the American League Division Series to keep their life in the 2020 season alive with a 5-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday night at Petco Park.
From the pitching mound to the batter’s box, the Yankees hunkered down and displayed an unfazed mentality as they faced elimination after going numb in Game 3.
In the must-win game, Luke Voit’s struggling bat found its pulse to carry the Yankees with a lead-off two-run home run in the bottom of the second inning. The 77 mph slider from Ryan Thompson was smothered to the second deck in left field.
After Voit’s blast, the Yankees worked the right hander by loading the bases and tagging another run with a sacrifice fly from DJ LeMahieu to give the Yankees an early 2-0 lead.
The lone run for the Rays came on a sacrifice ground out from Brandon Lowe with the bases loaded, scoring Willy Adames in the top of the third inning.
However, Jordan Montgomery didn’t allow the Rays offense to destabilize his execution and was able to get the fiercest bat in the Rays lineup — who has wreaked havoc for the Yankees pitching staff throughout the series — Randy Arozarena to ground out and deplete the only serious threat the Rays posed Thursday night.
To give the Yankees a comfortable lead, Gleyber Torres scorched a 84-mph cutter to the fourth floor balcony of the Western Metal Supply Company building that’s tucked in left field to give the Yankees an insured 4-1 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning.
The 23-year-old shortstop has hit five home runs in his postseason career. The only other Yankees player to do so before the age of 24 is Mickey Mantle. Torres has reached base in 18 of 20 postseason games, stemming back to the 2018 postseason.
Torres reiterated how important their confident attitude proved to be the triumphant factor they needed to claim their Game 4 victory. All their confidence circulating through the lineup, all the way through the bullpen. “We were really confident tonight. We never feel panicked or anything like that. We just come into the plate and try to do damage early,” Torres said after going 2-for-3 on the night with a walk.
The Yankees pulled three relievers — Chad Green, Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman — from the bullpen to anchor down the dominant outing Montgomery attributed in four innings. The collected line for the trio stands at five frames without a single hit, no walks and seven strikeouts.
“I knew they’d come ready to play,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “I knew they’d relish the opportunity with a win-or-go-home game. I didn’t notice any real big difference with them. It was kind of business as usual. But there was certainly an edge to them right before the game, right before we’re ready to take the field and I thought everyone came up big tonight.”
For the first time in his Yankees career, Gerrit Cole will be pitching in a win-or-go-home postseason game. Most notably, Cole will be on three days rest, something he’s never done in his eight-year career. The Rays slide Tyler Glasnow into the starting slot on two days rest. Something the 27-year-old righty has yet to do in his life but says he feels healthy enough to take the mound in the pivotal Game 5 matchup.
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