The Tampa Bay Rays are headed to the American League Championship Series after toppling the New York Yankees, 2-1, in a thrilling Game 5 of the ALDS on Friday night that emphatically and poetically concluded a tense 2020 duel between the two AL East powers.
Tampa Bay will now take on the Houston Astros with a chance to reach the World Series beginning on Sunday.
Though no punches were thrown — we're thankful for that — the five-game series between these at times heated rivals felt like a heavyweight boxing match.
Potential knockout blows were delivered in each game. In Game 1, it was Giancarlo Stanton's ninth-inning grand slam for New York. In Games 2 and 3, Tampa Bay combined to hit seven home runs, including two from breakout star Randy Arozarena. In Game 4, Gleyber Torres sealed the win for the Yankees with a moonshot homer.
Both teams answered the count until the eighth inning of Game 5, when unlikely hero Mike Brosseau homered off Yankees’ closer Aroldis Chapman. It was the ultimate revenge for Brosseau, an undrafted free agent. Chapman, the star Yankees closer, buzzed him with a 101-mph fastball during a game in September. That added more fuel to a feud that’s been going on since 2018 and earned Chapman a suspension that is still being appealed.
For Chapman, it was another soul-crushing home run allowed in October. Last season, he served up a walk-off home run to Jose Altuve that sent the Astros to the World Series.
The Rays had a chance to take charge of Game 5 and knock Gerrit Cole out early. The Yankees’ $324 million starter struggled with his command in the first inning, hitting one batter and walking two to load the bases. However, he rebounded to strike out Joey Wendle and escape without any damage.
Cole ended up pitching 5 1/3 innings and striking out nine batters, his only blemish coming on a solo home run by Austin Meadows. That countered Aaron Judge’s fourth-inning solo shot against reliever Nick Anderson.
It's on to the ALCS, where the Rays will face the Houston Astros for a chance to play in the 2020 World Series. Game 1 will take place Sunday night at 7:37 p.m. ET and will be shown on TBS.
The Rays did not play Houston during the regular season due to MLB's limited travel schedule. Their last meeting actually took place during the 2019 postseason, when Cole led the Astros to a Game 5 win in the ALDS.
Entering Game 5 in a 3-for-32 slump, Aaron Judge gave the Yankees the lead in the fourth inning with this 340-foot home run to Petco Park’s short right-field porch.
Unfortunately for Judge, his unfamiliarity with Petco Park may have prevented a chance to rob Austin Meadows of this game-tying home run.
You could say he misjudged it.
As for Brett Gardner, he had no such problems taking away this home run from Arozarena.
How about this for an ending? Wendle secured the final out — barely — after Gio Urshela nearly destroyed his glove.
The last out was a ROCKET to 3rd base, but Joey Wendle snagged it 🔥 pic.twitter.com/peYHDq4zGJ— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 10, 2020
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