McCoy: Late Rays home run eliminates Yankees

Tampa Bay Rays' Michael Brosseau (43) celebrates after hitting a solo home run during the eighth inning in Game 5 of the baseball team's AL Division Series against the New York Yankees, Friday, Oct. 9, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Credit: Gregory Bull

Credit: Gregory Bull

Revenge and payback was a Big Hurt for the New York Yankees.

Because Tampa Bay bench player Mike Brosseau extracted five pounds of flesh from New York Yankes relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman, the Rays are headed for the American League Championship Series and the Yankees are going home.

Brosseau, an unheraled, undrafted player, entered the deciding Game 5 of the American League Division Series as a pinch-hitter, homered off Chapan in the bottom of the eighth to lift the Rays to a 2-1 victory.

The back story is how legends are made.

During the regular season, Chapman threw a 101 mph fastball that nearly decapitated Brosseau. It missed. . .barely. . .but both benches charged the field for some general milling around.

The next night Brosseau hit two home runs against the Yankees.

On Thursday night in Petco Park, it was Brosseau who went head-hunting. After fouling off two 3-and-2 pitches, Brosseau put the head of the bat on another Chapman 100 mph fastball.

And it crash landed in the left field seats for the biggest at bat of the season for the Rays.

All that was left was for relief pitcher Diego Castillo to keep the quiet in the ninth. He did it by striking out Giancarlo Stanton, striking out Luke Voit and ending it on line drive to third base.

Brosseau took the high road after the game in talking about his monstrous at bat.

“No revenge, we’ve put that in the past,” he said. “We came here to win the series, move on, play our game. That’s what we do best.”

Of his at bat, the native of Munster, Ind., and a product of Oakland University in Michigan, where he went undrafted, Brosseau said, "We knew the hits weren’t coming much. I went up there ... thankfully it happened.

Although the Rays had the American League’s best record at 40-20, the series was David vs. Goliath. The Yankees owned baseball’s hightest pro-rated payroll for 60 games at $77 million. The Rays have the 28th (of 30) at $23.2 million.

In fact, Yankees starter Gerrit Cole’s pro-rathe salary this season was $13.3 million.

Both starting pitchers, Cole and Tampa Bay’s Tyler Glasnow started on short rest — Cole on three days for the first time in his career, and Glasnow on only two days.

So it was obvious it would be a bullpen day for both teams.

Cole pitched 5 1/3 innings and gave up just one hit, a home run to Austin Meadows, while striking out nine. Glasnow only pitched 2 1/3 innings and gave up no runs and no hits.

The Yankees scored their run on a solo home run by Aaron Judge off relief pitcher Nick Anderson.

But the Rays bullpen stood strong and steady. Anderson pitched 2 2/3 innings (one run, two hits), Peter Fairbanks pitched two innings (no runs, one hit) and Diego Castillo finished it with two innings (no runs, no hits, four strikeouts).

The Rays had a full-blown first-inning opportunity against Cole, filling the bases without a hit on two walks and a hit batesman.

After falling behind 3-and-0 to Joey Wendle, he struck him out.

Tampa’s Glanow pitched his way one trip through the Yankees batting order, a scoreless, hitless 2 1/3 innings.

Anderson replaced Glasnow and also worked his way through the Yankee lineup one time. But he didn’t escape. Aaron Judge lofted one into the short right field corner for a home run and a 1-0 lead.

Cole was knifing his way through the Tampa Bay lineup for 4 2/3 innings — no runs, no hits.

Then his one Achilles heel was exposed. In 14 gamess this season he gave up 12 home runs. When Austin Meadows stepped to the plate with two outs in the fifth, the Rays were on a record 0 for their last 32 against Yankees pitchers.

Meadows ended that. He hit one to right and it appeared the 6-foot-7 Judge would rise above the wall and snag it. But he hit his head on the padded overhang on the fence. The ball hit the top of the fence and bounced over, a game-tying home run, 1-1.

Fairbanks was Tampa Bay pitcher No. 3 and he put two on with two outs in he sixth. Luke Voit, who said on Thursday night, “We will win it all,” struck out to leave it 1-1.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone permitted Cole to start the sixth, then quickly thought better of it. The first hitter, Randy Arozarena exploded the first pitch to left field. Brett Gardner went above the wall to snag it.

And Boone was out of the dugout before the ball was returned to the infield and Cole was replaced with Zack Britton.

Britton put two on with one out, then struck out Wendle and Willy Adames lined to right and it remained 1-1.

That set it up for Brosseau’s Hollywood finish, a finish that any film director would consider to smaltzy. But it was real and both the Yankees and Rays felt it — in different ways.

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