Bullpen management blunder overshadows Stanton’s historic night in Yankees ALDS Game 2 loss to Rays

MLB: ALDS-New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays
Oct 6

There is a lot in question after the Yankees’ surprising, ‘fake-out’ bullpen maneuver inadvertently backfired and played a costly role in Tuesday’s series-evening 7-5 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 2 of the ALDS.

Shortly after Deivi Garcia became the Yankees’ youngest-ever playoff starter, the organization elected for J.A. Happ to start the second inning — a move that quickly turned into a decisive, four-run nightmare for the Bombers.

 Even more, it overshadowed a historic night at the plate for designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton, whose first of two home runs secured a place in the Yankees record books.

Garcia’s outing began with a hiccup when hot-batted outfielder Randy Arozarena launched a solo home run that put Tampa up 1-0 in the first inning, though that was unlikely the root cause for brining in Happ.

Stanton’s accolade came when he answered quickly with a game-tying blast to right off starter Tyler Glasnow in the second inning, joining the company of Lou Gehrig and Reggie Jackson with four homers in four consecutive playoff games. 

While the Yankees trotted out to the field in the bottom of the second, Garcia did not, as Happ was surprisingly given the ball.

The move was immediately unsuccessful as Happ allowed a pair of two-run homers, the first to catcher Mike Zunino in the second before Manuel Margot put Tampa up 5-1 in the third inning.

Continuing a ferocious postseason, Stanton pushed the Yankees back into contention with a three-run moonshot to the Pacific Ocean in the fourth, cutting Tampa’s lead to just 5-4.

Reliever Jonathan Loaisiga surrendered another run to Tampa off an RBI single from outfielder Kevin Kiermaier which made it a 6-4 game through five innings played.

Happ, who was briefly replaced with Adam Ottavino in the fourth, put up 2.2 innings of work with four earned runs on five hits, three walks, and two strikeouts.

After walking outfielder Aaron Hicks to start the sixth inning, Glasnow, who put up a franchise-best 10 postseason strikeouts, was replaced by righty Diego Castillo who put the Yanks down in order.

The Rays got to Loaisiga again when DH Austin Meadows homered in the bottom half of that frame, putting Tampa up 7-4.

Facing reliever Nick Anderson in the seventh, the Yankees were brought the tying run to the plate with runners on first and second, but catcher Gary Sanchez, second baseman DJ LeMahieu, and outfielder Aaron Judge each struck out to end the inning.

Anderson returned for the eighth inning, where he shunned any glimmer of Yankees offense. 

In the ninth, LeMahieu singled in a run off of closer Peter Fairbanks with two outs, bringing Judge to plate representing the leading run – though he grounded out to end the game.

By the end of the game and 18 K’s later for the Bombers, Hicks was the only Yankees batter to not strikeout.

Masahiro Tanaka is believed to start Game 3 against Charlie Morton at 7 p.m. Wednesday night.

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