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Mike Brosseau’s eighth-inning home run lifts Rays over Yankees, into ALCS

The Rays' Mike Brosseau hits a go-ahead homer during the eighth inning in Game 5 of the ALDS on Oct. 9, 2020.
The Rays’ Mike Brosseau hits a go-ahead, solo homer off the Yankees’ Aroldis Chapman during the bottom of the eighth inning in Game 5 of the ALDS on Friday night. Tampa Bay won 2-1.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Mike Brosseau homered off Aroldis Chapman with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning, and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the New York Yankees 2-1 on Friday night to reach the American League Championship Series for the first time in 12 seasons.

The first career postseason homer for the 26-year-old utilityman came after a 10-pitch at-bat against the Yankees’ vaunted, hard-throwing closer, who entered the game in the seventh inning. Brosseau drove a 100-mph fastball into the left-field seats at Petco Park for just the third hit for the Rays.

The Dodgers are hosting drive-in watch parties at Dodger Stadium for each NLCS game against the Atlanta Braves.

The Rays won the AL Division Series 3-2 and will stay in San Diego to face the Houston Astros in the AL Championship Series starting Sunday night. The Rays are in the ALCS for the first time since 2008, when they beat the Boston Red Sox in seven games. They lost to the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series that year.

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The Rays celebrate after defeating the Yankees 2-1 in Game 5 of the ALDS on Oct. 9, 2020.
The Rays celebrate after defeating the Yankees 2-1 in Game 5 of the ALDS to advance to the ALCS for the first time since 2008.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Brosseau and Chapman have a history this season: Chapman threw a 101-mph fastball near Brosseau’s head Sept. 1 in the ninth inning of the Rays’ 5-3 victory. Chapman likely had nothing against Brosseau personally, but the pitch was an apparent escalation of a feud between the AL East rivals, and it prompted Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash’s infamous declaration that he has “a whole damn stable full of guys that throw 98 miles an hour.”

Brosseau pumped his fists and hollered “Yes!“ as he began his home run trot. When he returned to the dugout, there were celebratory body slams and high-fives with his teammates.

“No revenge, We put that in the past,” said Brosseau, who pinch-hit for Ji-Man Choi in the sixth and and then stayed in at first base. “We came here to win the series. We came here to move on, to do what we do best. That’s play our game.”

Major League Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Whitey Ford won 236 games in 16 seasons and won six titles at the World Series during his career.

Tampa Bay had a $29-million payroll, 28th out of the 30 major league teams, this coronavirus-shortened season, while the Yankees had the third largest at $84 million. The Rays dominated the regular-season series with the Yankees 8-2 and were the AL’s top seed.

About an hour after the game ended, a number of Rays came back out to the field and dugout with beverages and cigars and trolled the Yankees by playing Frank Sinatra’s version of “New York, New York,” played at Yankee Stadium after victories, and Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind” featuring Alicia Keys.

After Brosseau went undrafted, the Rays signed him in June 2016 for $1,000.

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All-Star Austin Meadows also homered for the Rays, connecting off ace Gerrit Cole in the fifth. Aaron Judge tried to make a leaping catch but jammed his head into a padded overhang.

“I got to get up there and rob that one,” the 6-foot-7 right fielder said.

Judged homered in the fourth.

Like the Dodgers, the Atlanta Braves swept their wild card and division series rounds en route to the National League Championship Series.

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Winner Diego Castillo followed a hitless eighth with a 1-2-3 ninth, and the celebration was on for the Rays. They took a 2-1 lead in the ALDS before the Yankees forced the deciding fifth game.

Cole, who was pitching about 100 miles south of where he grew up a Yankees fan in Newport Beach, struck out nine in 5 1/3 innings. After winning Game 1 on Monday night, he pitched on short rest for the first time in his major league career.

“It’s big disappointment,” said Cole, who signed a nine-year, $324-million free-agent deal in the offseason. “Not the way we drew it up. Really hard-fought series that sometimes can make it tougher to swallow too.”


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