NEW YORK —The Tampa Bay Rays had to be disappointed by the outcome of the wild-card game. Instead of playing the New York Yankees or Red Sox, they went up against CC Sabathia, Luis Severino and the red-hot Yankees offense.
The Yankees led by 10 runs at the midpoint of the game, by two games to none and by a commanding 26 to 8. The Rays didn’t completely abandon their bats, they also got three home runs.
Instead, they got a 9-8 victory and their first win of the series over the Yankees since 2015.
It’s hard to beat Sabathia or Severino at the plate, but the key was their ability to let the ball move as much as possible. Both starting pitchers ran the bases successfully. Sabathia lifted himself for two pop-ups that nobody could catch and then later laid down a sacrifice bunt. Severino, meanwhile, was able to put himself in position for a hit with bunts of his own.
Sabathia might have won the game with his bunting, but during the game, he surrendered four runs, one of which was his only error. He hit four batters and, in fact, struck out only one batter. He also said he might need to start going backwards, making sure to take off first from the batter’s box.
Severino didn’t suffer from one problem, but he had a big one, as well. The Yankees starter pitched seven innings, and allowed three runs and six hits, but walked five and struck out only three. In his ninth start this season, he has allowed 21 home runs.
It’s not a particularly big blow if he only gave up a couple home runs, but it’s not great when you allow four. The Rays were able to pounce on those walks and score two runs in the first inning to give the Rays a lead they wouldn’t give up, and to go up by as many as six runs in the sixth.
Tampa Bay even had a chance to win the game in the ninth inning after they took the lead from New York. With two outs, Kole Calhoun and Upton made it to second and third on Hector Rondon’s wild throw to first. Stephen Drew singled to center to drive in both runners and tie the game.
One run off Rondon may not seem like much in such a blowout, but in a game in which the Yankees scored over six runs in the ninth inning of Game 1, it had to feel like an important one. The two runners eventually scored, the Yankees weren’t able to take the lead and the Rays are evened the series at one game each.