Well, it all comes down to this. The Tampa Bay Rays lose Game 4 of the American League Division Series to the New York Yankees, 5-1, and have to defeat the Yankees' ace, Gerrit Cole, in Game 5, as they had to do last season.
A two-run Gleyber Torres home run off Ryan Yarbrough in the 6th inning provided the cushion the Yankees needed to utilize the key cogs of their vaunted bullpen and secure the win.
The big three of the Yankees bullpen, Chad Green, Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman combined to hold the Rays hitless through the last five innings. The last hit by a Rays batter was a Ji-Man Choi single leading off the fourth inning off Yankees' starter Jordan Montgomery.
The Yankees had a major opportunity to blow the game open in the second inning, as Luke Voit led the inning off with a solo home run off Rays' opener Ryan Thompson. Then, Thompson proceeded to walk Brett Gardner, Gleyber Torres and Gio Urshela consecutively. After striking out Kyle Higashioka, D.J. LeMahieu followed with a sacrifice fly to extend the Yankee lead to 2-0. The Rays were fortunate to escape the inning after Ryan Yarbrough replaced Thompson and induced Aaron Judge to ground out, ending the inning.
The Rays had their best and only opportunity the next half inning, as Willy Adames walked, and Kevin Kiermaier followed with a grounds rule double over the head of Yankee left fielder Brett Gardner. But they could only eke out a run on a fielder's choice RBI by Brandon Lowe.
Yarbrough held the Yankees in check until the 6th, when Torres launched his homer. The Yankees added an insurance run in the eighth, when Higashioka drove in Torres with a single.
Now the Rays face their ultimate test in order to extend the season. They'll send Tyler Glasnow on two days' rest, to face Cole, who's on three days' rest. But you can bet it will be all hands on deck to see who moves on to face the Houston Astros for the 2020 American League Championship.
Coverage will begin at 6 p.m. Friday on 95.3 WDAE with The Inside Pitch, starring Steve Carney. Then the Rays pregame show with Neil Solondz follows at 6:30, with first pitch at 7:10.
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