Bullpen management blunder overshadows Stanton’s historic night in Yankees ALDS Game 2 loss to Rays

Oct 6, 2020; San Diego, California, USA; New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone (17) walks to the mound to remove starting pitcher J.A. Happ (33) from the game in the 4th inning against the Tampa Bay Rays of game two of the 2020 ALDS at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

There is a lot in question after the Yankees surprising, ‘fake-out’ bullpen maneuver inadvertently backfired and played a costly role in Tuesday’s series evening, 7-5, loss to the Tampa Bay Rays in ALDS Game 2.

Shortly after Deivi Garcia became the Yankees youngest ever playoff starter, the organization elected for J.A. Happ to start the second inning – a move that quickly turned into a decisive, four run nightmare for the Bombers.

Even more, it overshadowed a historic night at the plate for designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton, who’s first of two home runs secured a place in the Yankees record books for number 27.

Garcia’s outing began with a hiccup when hot batted outfielder Randy Arozarena launched a solo home run that put Tampa up 1-0 in the first inning, though that was unlikely the root cause for brining in Happ.

Stanton’s accolade came when he answered quick with a game tying blast to right off starter Tyler Glasnow in the second inning, joining the company of Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson with four homers in four consecutive playoff games.

Then Happ replaced Garcia for the second inning after he only allowed the home run and a hit batsman in the 1-1 game.

The move was immediately unseccuesful as Happ allowed a pair of two run homers to catcher Mike Zunino in the second and another to,outfielder Manuel Margot, putting Tampa up 5-1 by the third inning.

Continuing a ferocious postseason, Stanton pushed the Yankees back into contention with a three run moonshot to the Pacific Ocean in the fourth, cutting Tampa’s lead to only 5-4.

Reliever Jonathan Loaisiga surrendered another run to Tampa off an RBI single from outfielder Kevin Kiermaier which made it a 6-4 game through five innings played.

Happ, who was briefly replaced with Adam Ottavino in the fourth put up 2.2 innings pitched with four earned runs on five hits, three walks and two strikeouts.

After walking outfielder Aaron Hicks to start the sixth inning, Glasnow, who put up a franchise-best 10 postseason strikeouts was replaced by righty Diego Castillo who put the Yanks down in order.

The Rays got to Loaisiga again when DH Austin Meadows homered the bottom half of that frame, putting Tampa up 7-4.

Facing reliever Nick Anderson in the seventh, the Yankees were brought the tying run to the plate with runners on first and second, but catcher Gary Sanchez, second baseman DJ LeMahieu, and outfielder Aaron Judge each struckout to end the inning.

Anderson returned for the eighth inning, where he shunned any glimmer of Yankees offense.

In the ninth, LeMahieu singled in a run off of closer Peter Fairbanks with two outs, bringing Judge to plate representing the leading run – though he grounded out to end the game.

By the end of the game, Hicks was the only Yankees batter to not strike out.

Masahiro Tanaka is believed to start Game 3 against Charlie Morton at 7 p.m. Wednesday night.

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