The Yankees and Rays are set for Game 5 after New York handily took Game 4.
There wasn’t much optimism heading into ALDS Game 4. The New York Yankees had their backs up against the wall and needed a win to avoid elimination, but that’s something they couldn’t really ask for with Jordan Montgomery on the mound and the Rays ready to deploy their stable of 98ers with a Tampa Bay trademark bullpen game.
We wanted Aaron Boone to do something wild and start Aroldis Chapman and work his way backwards, especially given how the Rays have been hitting the Yankees’ starters. But Monty got the start, and though it wasn’t exactly the prettiest of outings, he delivered when it mattered most.
One could say it was Andy Pettitte-esque in a sense. The left-hander, who hadn’t pitched since Sept. 24, went four innings and allowed just one run on four hits and three walks. He neutralized Randy Arozarena. You really couldn’t ask for more.
The fans counted him out. The media buried the Yankees for their pitching decision in Game 2 that many felt doomed them in Game 3. But guess what? Boone survived it all and might’ve played this perfectly.
Game 2 proved the Yankees cannot trust JA Happ. We won’t see him again. We still don’t know what to expect from Deivi Garcia in a playoff setting since he still has so little experience. Montgomery, who was somewhere in between these two, got the nod for his first postseason start and kept the Bombers alive against the best team in the AL.
The Rays have been bludgeoning the Yankees the last two games and Monty came in to put his mark on the playoffs. Tampa will now have to deal with Gerrit Cole and a fairly rested bullpen in a do-or-die Game 5 on Friday. We’d venture to say the only guy who won’t be pitching is Chad Green, who’s been used a ton this series.
If you look at Monty’s line, it’s really nothing to write home about, but that doesn’t matter because any outing you’re able to escape alive in the postseason is considered a good one. He kept the Bombers in it, got out of jams, and waited for the offense to wake up. Luke Voit and Gleyber Torres blasted homers and the Yankees ended up scoring five runs. That was enough. The Yankees bats will eventually deliver, so keeping the opposition at bay for almost the first half of the game is more crucial than one might think.
Like we’ve been saying — pitching isn’t going to be the reason the Yankees lose, but it will be an even bigger factor in them continuing to win.
And that’s the shutdown bullpen the Yankees need to see if they want to meet the Houston Astros in the next round. If they get at least six innings from Cole tomorrow, Boone still has Adam Ottavino and Aroldis Chapman as his most well-rested relievers. Also, Zack Britton has only thrown 36 pitches in two outings this series. He’ll likely be available. And don’t forget Deivi Garcia could be utilized for an inning or two! You never know.
Yes, the Rays have their top bullpen arms well rested after tonight, but they don’t have Cole pitching. The Yankees have one of the best in the game starting a do-or-die matchup and enough top relievers behind him to advance to the ALCS.
It’s all right there. And if Judge breaks out of his slump, oh man. We’re lined up to get the perfect revenge on our division rivals.