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Dubious move leaves Yankees wondering what happened in Game 2 loss

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — One could argue Game 2 of the ALDS was lost at the trade deadline. The New York Yankees chose not to trade for another starting pitcher and it all blew up in their 7-5 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.

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Some will argue Masahiro Tanaka should’ve pitched Game 2 and gone for the 2-0 series lead. I didn’t have a problem with Deivi Garcia earning the nod. What I do take issue with is Garcia being lifted after one frame for J.A. Happ.

If you’ll remember, Happ was passed over for a Chad Green opener start in an elimination game last season.

The Rays worked Garcia to 27 pitches but aside from a solo homer by Randy Arozarena, who homered off Gerrit Cole the day prior, he deserved at least one time around the order.

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With the Bronx Bombers quickly responding with an opposite-field porch shot equalizer by Giancarlo Stanton off Tyler Glasnow in the second stanza, it looked like the Yankees had stabilized.

Yet, Happ, the southpaw who was brought on to neutralize lefties, walked three lefties. When Happ faced righties it was scarier. Mike Zunino clocked a two-run tater to left in the bottom of the second for a 3-1 advantage. During the third inning, Manuel Margot popped a two-run homer to center for a 5-1 lead. I mean, Garcia could’ve done that. Sheesh.

After the game, Happ said he would’ve preferred to have started but was ready to pitch. Ready to give up seven runs instead? He should be removed from the ALDS roster tomorrow.

Thankfully, Stanton was still on his run in the fourth frame. Following an Aaron Hicks single and Luke Voit walk, Stanton clobbered a three-run round-tripper to the moon in left. That trimmed the Tampa edge to 5-4.

Yet, the Yankee bats would go relatively cold. Not that CB Bucknor was much help behind the plate but New York batters struck out 18 times and the Rays pitchers took full advantage.

As for the rest of the Yankee bullpen, it wasn’t too pretty. Adam Ottavino, who came on for a Happ in the fourth, issued a leadoff walk to Joey Wendle and allowed him to steal second in the fifth frame. After a Willy Adames groundout, Ottavino was lifted for Jonathan Loaisiga, who hasn’t proven to be any more or less reliable at this point. Loaisiga allowed Wendle to score on an RBI-single to center by Kevin Kiermaier. Yikes.

Loaisiga was also touched up for a solo bomb to center by Austin Meadows in the sixth inning.

The Yankees looked to be rallying in the seventh inning against Diego Castillo, as Gleyber Torres walked and Clint Frazier lofted a single to center. Kevin Cash called on Nick Anderson, who promptly struck out the side if you want to call that third strike to DJ LeMahieu, a strike.

Jonathan Holder, who was warming up since the second inning, maybe should’ve been in the game. Holder worked a 1-2-3 scoreless seventh inning.

Nick Nelson did the same in the eighth, registering two K’s.

Facing Pete Fairbanks in the ninth inning, the Yankees pieced together a bit of a rally. Gio Urshela and Torres coaxed a pair of free passes. Frazier and Gary Sanchez struck out. LeMahieu singled up the middle to plate Urshela and cut the deficit to 7-5. Aaron Judge grounded out to third to end the game.

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Hence, we have a three-game series. The Yankees need a fresh Tanaka, Green, Zack Britton, Aroldis Chapman and the bats to deliver in Game 3.