SAN DIEGO, Calif. — The baseballs were as big as beachballs as the Bronx Bombers took their show to San Diego. There were no surprises between the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays in Game 1 of the ALDS. The Bronx Bombers set an MLB record with 11 home runs in their first three postseason contests of 2020. New York muscled up and kept clicking in their 9-3 victory.
The offense dug in against Blake Snell. DJ LeMahieu set the tone with a nine-pitch single in the first frame. Following a wild pitch, an Aaron Judge groundout, and an Aaron Hicks sac fly, the Yankees gained a 1-0 lead and pushed Snell to 20 pitches.
Yet, Gerrit Cole ran into a bit of trouble against one of Tampa’s hottest hitters. Randy Arozarena smacked a solo shot to center for the equalizer in the bottom of the first inning. If not for a toe stretch by Luke Voit on a Gleyber Torres throw earlier in the inning, it could’ve been 2-1.
Cole received some more help from his defense in the second stanza. Gio Urshela made a pair of sparkling plays at third, including one from the seat of his pants.
In the home half, Cole pitched into an out of a jam. Finally, the Yankees decided to intentionally walk Choi to load the bases with two outs. Then Cole whiffed Manuel Margot with 100 mph smoke for the shutdown inning.
Cole emptied the tank with another doughnut and a pair of 99 mph K’s in the sixth inning.
From there Chad Green sweated a bit in the seventh but pushed through with a scoreless frame. Zach Britton basically breezed through the eighth inning.
In the ninth inning, the Bronx Bombers blew the barn doors off the Rays stable. Facing John Curtiss, Higashioka got the ball rolling with a single to right. LeMahieu followed with a walk. Hicks drilled a one-out RBI-single to right to plate Higashioka.
After a dubious free pass to Tyler Wade to load the bases, Giancarlo Stanton destroyed a grand slam to dead center. The slam capped off the scoring and enabled the Yankees to pitch Luis Cessa and save Aroldis Chapman.