Rays tie series with 7-5 victory over Yankees
By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports Writer
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Giancarlo Stanton’s second homer Tuesday night left his bat at 118 mph with a ferocious crack. Players on both teams gaped in awe from the dugouts while the three-run shot rocketed a projected 458 feet to the empty patio atop the highest level of outfield seats at Petco Park.
For the first time in his three seasons with New York, the Yankees’ big-money slugger is putting on a fantastic power display in the postseason. Stanton has homered in every one of New York’s four postseason games to tie a franchise feat previously accomplished by only Lou Gehrig and Reggie Jackson.
After hitting a grand slam in the opener, Stanton launched two more long balls in Game 2 of the AL Division Series against Tampa Bay, including that massive fourth-inning homer to the highest, deepest reaches of San Diego’s ballpark.
But as beautiful as it all was, Stanton’s power wasn’t enough to stop the Rays from tying the best-of-five series with a 7-5 victory Tuesday night.
Although Stanton became the first Yankees player to homer in four consecutive playoff games in the same postseason, his homers accounted for 40% of the Bronx Bombers’ hits against Tyler Glasnow and the Tampa Bay bullpen.
New York’s powerhouse lineup struck out a team-record 18 times, also setting a major league mark for strikeouts in a nine-inning postseason game.
After scoring 31 runs and hitting 11 homers to set two big league records for a team’s first three playoff games, that feasting lineup went through a famine. The plate discipline that served New York so well in Game 1 wasn’t nearly so much in evidence in the rematch.
That’s why Stanton likely won’t find many positives in his first career multi-homer postseason game, the 33rd of his career overall. Limited to 41 games over the past two regular seasons because of injuries, he hadn’t accomplished the feat since Sept. 27, 2018, at Tampa Bay.
Stanton hit a 374-foot solo homer down the right-field line in the second inning before his majestic three-run shot in the fourth. No power hitter has ever started a playoff run like Stanton: He’s the first player in major league history whose first five hits in a postseason were all homers.
But Stanton struck out swinging in the sixth against Tampa Bay reliever Diego Castillo, who threw a 98 mph sinker followed by back-to-back nasty sliders.
Stanton then hit a 110.8 mph line drive in the eighth, but left fielder Randy Arozarena caught it for the Yankees’ third out.
Although the Yankees gave away their 1-0 series lead, Stanton remains a major problem for the Rays’ pitching staff going forward, particularly in these unusual circumstances.
Although Stanton has spent his playing career on the East Coast, he grew up in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, so he’s more than comfortable in Southern California. He has also done plenty of damage down the coast at Petco Park, even before this playoff series.
Stanton entered this neutral-site series with eight homers and 15 RBIs in just 19 career games at San Diego’s beautiful downtown park. His 1.190 career OPS at Petco is his best at any stadium in the majors except Toronto’s Rogers Centre.
Stanton also won the Home Run Derby in San Diego during the 2016 All-Star Game festivities, blasting 61 homers over the three rounds in a performance that had local fans shaking their heads. The Marlins slugger hit the 10 longest homers in the competition and finished with an average of 446 feet on his drives, peppering both the brick warehouse beyond the left-field pole and the fans on its balconies and in the bleachers next to it.
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