Yes, it was the classic David vesus Goliath series. And, yes, the little guy won.
The Tampa Bay Rays’ payroll for 2020, pro-rated for COVID, was $28.2 million, third lowest in baseball. The New York Yankees’ was $109.4 million, the highest in baseball. The Yankees had three players making more themselves than the entire Rays team.
The Yankees are filled with stars all over the diamond. Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, DJ LeMahieu, Glabor Torres, Brett Gardner.
The Rays have nobody you’ve ever heard of except maybe Kevin Kiermaier, and that’s only because he is one of the premier defensive center fielders in baseball. Defense is important for non-Arlington-based teams.
But the rag tag band of nobodies beat the big bad Yankees in a wonderful, taut best-of-five series. Offense was scarce in Game 5. Not like scarce Rangers offense because it doesn’t exist. Scarce offense because the pitching was so dominating. Both teams got a total of three hits each.
When the Rays left bases loaded in the bottom of the first against a struggling Garrit Cole, pitching on short rest and not having his command, it looked like they squandered what might be their only opportunity.
They went three up and three down in the second and third, and managed a baserunner only via an error in the fourth.
Through four innings the Rays didn’t have a hit.
But all the Yankees could muster was a home run from, of course, Aaron Judge in the top of the fourth. But the way the Rays were not hitting, that one run looked like a dozen.
The first two Rays in the fifth were retired before Austin Meadows got Tampa Bay’s first hit of the game. A home run to right center to tie the game. Suddenly, the Rays could exhale.
The Yankees put on two runners in the sixth and it looked like more Yankees post-season magic. But the Rays got out of it.
Then they, too, put two runners on in the bottom of the sixth but also failed to score.
It stayed that way until one out in the Rays eighth inning when little-known Mike Broussard homered off Yankees star closer Aroldis Chapman and his world famous 100-plus-miles-per-hour fastball. That particular one was clocked at 100.4.
And just like that, the Rays took a lead, needing just three more outs to slay the beast.
Strikeout. Strikeout. Then a 109-mile-per-hour laser beam into the third baseman’s glove for the final out of the game, a line drive that, by the way, was hit so hard it tore Joey Wendle’s mitt. He didn’t squeeze the ball for the final out. It just got lodged in the webbing.
And just like that, and as soon as Wendle buys a new glove, the Rays are moving on to face the Astros in a best-of-seven series starting tomorrow. And the Yankees are going home losers.
And time you can write, “the Yankees are going home losers” you’ve had a good day.