The Tampa Yankees went into Game 1 of a three-game-series with no recollection of going 4-6 against Dunedin since June. Despite major injury setbacks, weakened rosters due to promotions, and hot hitters going cold, the Yankees have been able to fight through it all.
The Dunedin Jays on the other hand, opposite to their 33-36 first-half record, dominated the last half of their 2016 season. The Jays finished with a 43-23 record and had been a nearly unstoppable lineup at times. That is until Yefrey Ramirez introduced himself to the Jays. With two solid starts against Dunedin in just the last week of August, Yefrey was able to get a good glimpse of the team he’d end up facing yesterday in game one of the Florida State League North Division Championship Series.
With the Yankees’ 2016 automatic weapon in the rotation, Josh Rogers was pitching in game two, Yefrey would put the Yankees in a great position to take the series should he pitch to expectation. That now is the case after Yefrey was the winner of an all-out pitching battle in Tuesday’s game. Ramirez didn’t stun with strikeouts in game one, but the outcome was just as fitting. Yefrey would pitch seven innings and give up just a run as he struck out three.
Though only recording three strikeouts, he was backed by a mostly stunning defensive effort from the guys around him. Gleyber Torres and Jorge Mateo (though letting a blooper drop as both called for the ball) made solid plays of their own. Torres with a quick throw after tracking down a ball, and Mateo as well, throwing across his body to get two speedy Dunedin runners in time.
However, the most outstanding defense came from Wes Wilson on Tuesday, who very well saved what could have been two to three runs. Yankees’ manager Pat Osborn was confident in naming Wes as the starting catcher for the postseason, and it came with immediate benefit. Wilson threw out three batters, the most important coming in the 12th inning as he threw out Jonathan Davis trying to steal third with no one out.
As for hitting, it wasn’t technically an ideal night for the Tampa offense. They went 0-10 with RISP, but then again, it was a gritty playoff game, and they found a way to win behind solid pitching. Jorge Mateo would technically have the only RBI in the game. However, Gleyber Torres’ double in the top of the 13th would bring home the winning run in Thairo Estrada. Torres went 2-5, both hits were doubles to the left corner. Torres wouldn’t be given a RBI for his double in the 13th inning, instead it’d be a fielding error on the Jays’ left-fielder. No matter what you want to call it, the game would be won because of that hit.
After Yefrey’s phenomenal seven innings, the bullpen would have to go six of their own. Jordan Foley was the bridge to extra innings on Tuesday. He’d pitch three innings of no-hit baseball, he’d also strike out six in the process. It was the fourth time this season that Foley has gone three full innings, and they were his strongest yet. He’ll most likely be unavailable for the rest of the series, but winning the first game was something the Yankees had on the top of their list.
The next three innings would be a mixture of no-hit ball from Eduardo Rivera, Sean Carley, and Dillon McNamara. Rivera, a hard-throwing right-handed pitcher who was with Low-A Charleston for a majority of the season started off by striking out two, hurling a lethal mix of fastballs (that topped out at 95 mph) and sliders. Carley, who started two of his three games with Tampa, was the one to walk Jonathan Davis in the 12th. He still would wiggle out of a potentially game-losing scenario. Dillon McNamara came to the mound in the 13th to finish the game off as he has all season.
Finally, McNamara came in to seal the deal and leave the Dunedin Jays’ crowd speechless after the 13 inning war was lost.