SAN DIEGO — Giancarlo Stanton and the Bronx Bombers made themselves right at home in Petco Park on a warm October Monday evening in Southern California.
Stanton hit a grand slam in the ninth inning for New York’s fourth home run of the game, and the Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays 9-3 in the opener of their AL Division Series at Petco Park.
The Bronx Bombers became the first team in American League history to hit a grand slam in back-to-back playoff games. Gio Urshela connected in Game 2 of the first-round sweep against Cleveland. Two NL teams have done it, the 1977 Dodgers and 2011 Diamondbacks.
The ball was flying for the Rays as well against Gerrit Cole in downtown San Diego. Randy Arozarena homered in the first and Ji-Man Choi muscled an opposite-field, two-run shot in the fourth into the Rays bullpen in left-center to give Tampa Bay a 3-2 lead.
Blake Snell, the 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner, was the loser. He pitched five innings and allowed four runs on six hits while striking out four and walking two.
“The solo shots, the three home runs, that’s frustrating,” Snell said. “It was just a weird night for me. I couldn’t really get in a rhythm. I couldn’t find consistency in pitches, so that was frustrating. I had to really battle with not a whole lot.”
Arozarena tied it in the bottom of the first before Frazier gave the Yankees the lead in the second. Choi’s shot in the fourth put Tampa Bay ahead 3-2.
Kyle Higashioka, who’s from Huntington Beach in Orange County, hit a line shot into the seats in left leading off the fifth. Judge, who’s from Northern California, lined his shot into the left-field seats as well.
Tampa Bay reliever Shane McClanahan became the first pitcher in baseball history to make his big league debut in a postseason game.
Masahiro Tanaka was pushed back to Game 3.
Astros 10, Athletics 5
LOS ANGELES — A home run derby broke out during a hot, dry day at Dodger Stadium, and suddenly the Houston Astros have their swing and swagger back.
Carlos Correa homered twice and drove in four, Jose Altuve hit a go-ahead, two-run single during Houston’s four-run sixth inning and the Astros rallied to beat the Oakland Athletics 10-5 in the opener of their AL Division Series on Monday.
“I love October baseball,” Correa said. “The energy is just different. I know there’s no fans this year, but the energy to know you win or go home is what drives me.”
George Springer, MVP of the 2017 World Series, had four hits for Houston, which trailed 3-0 and 5-3.
“To get down early and not quit and fight hard and come out with a win in the first game is obviously huge,” Springer said.
The Astros rallied with two outs in the sixth against Oakland’s vaunted bullpen to take control of Major League Baseball’s first neutral-site postseason game resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. Houston pounded out 16 hits in all as the A’s ran through eight pitchers.