Mike Brosseau belted a go-ahead homer in the eighth inning to propel the Tampa Bay Rays to the American League Championship Series with a 2-1 victory over the New York Yankees on Friday in San Diego.
Austin Meadows launched a solo homer in the fifth inning for top-seeded Tampa Bay, which posted a 3-2 series win over fifth-seeded New York in the best-of-five AL Division Series.
Tampa Bay advances to face Houston in Game 1 of the ALCS on Sunday night. The Rays did not play the Astros during the truncated 60-game regular season, but the Astros defeated the Rays in five games during the 2019 ALDS.
Brosseau exacted revenge after Aroldis Chapman (0-1) threw over his head in an at-bat on Sept. 1. With one out in the eighth inning Friday, Brosseau capped a 10-pitch at-bat by depositing a fastball from the fireballer over the wall in left field to stake Tampa Bay to a 2-1 lead.
Diego Castillo (1-0) picked up the win after striking out four batters over the final two innings.
"I was just trying to get a runner on, get the next guy up," said Brosseau, who came off the Rays' bench in the sixth inning and went 2-for-2.
"Obviously going up there trying to find a barrel. Hoping I can lift one. Thankfully, it happened."
And once he hit it?
"I knew it felt good," Brosseau said. "I haven't had much playing time, so it's kinda hard to read the dimensions, especially from daytime to nighttime, but it felt good off the bat."
Aaron Judge recorded the first hit of the game while leading off the fourth inning, and it was a big one. The New York slugger sent a 1-0 fastball from Nick Anderson into the short porch in right field for his third homer of the postseason and 11th career in the playoffs. The homer was the second allowed by Anderson in 2020.
The 6-foot-7 Judge was unable to prevent Meadows' solo homer, the Rays' only other hit, from clearing the right field wall with two outs in the fifth inning, however. Judge hit his head on the overhang of the 8-foot fence as Meadows took Gerrit Cole deep for Tampa Bay's first hit of the game. That hit was the only one allowed over 5 1/3 innings by Cole, who struck out nine batters and walked two.
Rays starter Tyler Glasnow walked two and fanned two in 2 1/3 hitless innings.
Each team finished with three hits.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone said, "It's awful. The ending is cruel, it really is. ... In what's been a real year of peaks and valleys for us on the field, too, I feel like, in a lot of ways, we're playing our best baseball right now. We lost to a really good team that I thought played a really good game against us, obviously being able to hold us down tonight."
New York honored Whitey Ford's uniform No. 16 on its left sleeves for Friday's game. Ford, who is the Yankees' all-time wins leader with 236, died while watching Game 4 of the ALDS on Thursday. He was 91.
--Field Level Media