In who-will-hit-1st-Yank-homer predictions done with couple of friends before each game, one friend predicted not only the 1st homer but the score and who would hit 2 homers. He had 7-4, Gleyber and Giancarlo Stanton. He had taken high ground – a good score. It is bad form to come up with same score and players… so I thought and what came to mind was… 9-3 New York.
But not wanting to Jinx the Yankees and predict a blowout, against Tampa ace Blake Snell no less, I came up with a more likely score – 6-3 NY. First homer… I channeled my inner Rasputin and Aaron Judge appeared, and… Higgy. But to be safe I said Judge and Luke Voit. After messaging that, I later found out that Clint Frazier would be starting and wanted to take back my bet and say Frazier would hit the 1st homer. But it was too late.
And thus you have the recap of the 1st game of the 2020 American League Championship Series, played in ‘the bubble’ in San Diego on Monday night, October 5.
1. Yanks Offense Squared with Tampa Early
The Yanks jumped on top in the top of the 1st on a DJ LeMahieu single on a 9-pitch at bat, who moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, moved to 3rd on a grounder that Aaron almost beat out, and scored on an Aaron Hicks sac fly.
Tampa tied it on a homer by left fielder and #3 hitter Randy Arozarena in the bottom of the 1st but then Clint Frazier, starting against the lefty Blake Snell, gave the Yanks the electric charge that manager Aaron Boone said he was hoping he would before the game – hitting a blast in the 3rd to put the Yanks on top 2-1.
Gerrit Cole seemed in command but got hit with a 2-run bomb by Yankee-killer (and former Yankee) Ji-Man Choi in the 4th and it was 3-2 Tampa.
And that’s when Kyle Higashioka, “Higgy”, stepped to the plate in the 5th and launched a shot to left to tie the score at 3-3. Two batters later, Aaron Judge did as predicted – a line shot homer to put the Yanks ahead 4-3.
2. Cole Did His Job
That’s where the score stayed through the middle to late innings. Cole left after 6 innings, 6 hits, 3 runs.
3. Yankee Bullpen Performed Well Thru Tense Late Innings
Chad Green came in to pitch the 7th, got the first 2 outs, walked a batter, but then got the final out on a lineout to shortstop. Phew.
Zak Britton came in for the 8th, score still 4-3 Yanks, and did his job getting the 1st batter, then walking the speedy Margot. He got a double-play grounder to Tyler Wade at 2nd (who had come in for defense in the 7th – LeMahieu moving to 1st, with Voit and his bad foot coming out) – but Gleyber Torres couldn’t turn the double play as he got Wade’s hard throw stuck in his glove.
Britton got tough and struck out Willy Adames to end the inning.
4. Yankee Bombers Put It Away Late
With Aroldis Chapman warming in the pen, Yankee Twitter PLEADED for IRP – Insurance Runs Please.
With Curtiss pitching to start the 9th, Higgy singled, LeMahieu walked, but Judge struck out. Aaron Hicks worked the count and got a BIG 1-out single to get the insurance run, and make it 5-3 NY.
Tyler Wade and then walked and Giancarlo Stanton hit a Grand Slam home run to centerfield to make it 9-3 NY. Chapman sat down and Luis Cessa started warming. Curtis then threw high heat up and in at Gio Urshela which knocked him down. Ushela popped up, but Gleyber Torres sincled to keep the inning going. He then stole 2nd in the 9-3 game. McClanahan came in to pitch. Higgy walked and Gardner got an infield single to load the bases, before LeMahieu grounded out to end it.
The 9th was Luis Cessa pitching a shutout inning for the ‘easy’ win.