The number one seeded Rays are headed to the ALCS for the first time since 2008. (Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Rays)

Tampa Bay’s pitching staff shoved on Friday night — in game five of the American League Division Series — while the offense hit two crucial homers, as the Rays defeated New York, 2-1, allowing them to advance to the American League Championship Series for the first time since 2008.

Tampa Bay had a great chance to score first in the early goings of the game. With one out, Brandon Lowe walked while Randy Arozarena was hit by a pitch. The runners moved up 90 feet on a pull side fielders choice by Ji-Man Choi. After Yandy Diaz walked, subsequently loading the bases, Joey Wendle struck out looking with the bases juiced after he got ahead in the count 3-0.

That began a stretch for Cole where he retired eight consecutive batters, striking out 75% of them. Diaz ended that stretch by reaching on a tough error by shortstop Gleyber Torres in the fourth inning after an eight-pitch at-bat.

Meanwhile, Tyler Glasnow started the game for Tampa Bay and posted two scoreless innings, allowing just a walk, yet throwing just 13 of 27 pitches for strikes (48% strike rate). Glasnow walked Brett Gardner on five pitches to open the third before Kyle Higashioka struck out looking.

Glasnow was lifted for Nick Anderson, who came on and got D.J. LeMahieu to ground into a 4-3 double play on the second pitch of the at-bat.

However, in the fourth inning, Aaron Judge took a 96 mph fastball left over the heart of the plate to the opposite field for a 1-0 lead. It was the first hit of the game for either side and the second home run of the series for Judge, who otherwise hit .150.

Still, Anderson kept the Rays in the game, going 2-2/3 innings in his longest big-league outing. He allowed two hits and punched out two.

Gerrit Cole had a no-hitter 4-2/3 innings until Austin Meadows hit a game-tying home run to right, just clearing the wall and a tumbling Aaron Judge. Cole almost gave up another solo shot in the sixth inning, but Brett Gardner leaped at the wall and snared Randy Arozarena’s deep fly ball to left. Cole gave up just two walks and a hit batter while striking out nine on 94 pitches across 5-1/3 innings.

Fairbanks took the mound for the sixth inning and got the first two outs before he allowed a single to center off the bat of Aaron Hicks. After Giancarlo Stanton walked on a full count pitch, Luke Voit struck out, ending the threat. Fairbanks collected a perfect seventh, striking out two.

Diego Castillo was the fourth pitcher of the ball game, as the other three allowed Tampa Bay to match Cole. While Castillo allowed just a two-out walk in the eighth inning, he struck out Giancarlo Stanton looking, then Luke Voit swinging, before he got Gio Urshela line out to third to end the game.

But before I get ahead of myself, Mike Brosseau, who was thrown at by Aroldis Chapman during the regular season, faced the Cuban Missile with one out in the eighth. After falling behind 0-2, Brosseau worked a 10-pitch at-bat, before he hammered a 3-2, 100 mph fastball to left for the go-ahead run. It was Brosseau’s second hit of the day and the series.

The Rays went on to win the game while every collective Rays’ fan now has something else to focus on besides stupid, bullshit neoliberal and faux-populist politics. Oh yeah, for what it’s worth, the cake: Tampa Bay advancing to the ALCS. Being able to eat it too: Shoving all those slow-motion porn/climax like shots of the Yankees back in TBS Baseball’s face. The amount of times TBS lauded over the Jays + Yankees, in lieu of the Rays, makes me want to puke.

After a brief respite on Saturday, the Rays will face the Astros for the best of seven ALCS. We will have a series preview tomorrow or Sunday. Until then, I am drunk and need to pass out.


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