DUNEDIN, Fla. - Entering their first playoff run in six years, the Yankees knew the importance of winning game one of a best-of-three series. After 13 innings of quality pitching by both sides, Tampa defeated the Dunedin Blue Jays, 2-1, on Tuesday night at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.
Gleyber Torres provided the big hit for Tampa with a double in the 13th, allowing Thairo Estrada to score the winning run on a misplay in left field by D.J. Davis.
Prior to that, an anticipated pitcher's duel occurred between RHP Yefrey Ramirez and RHP Luis Santos. The two faced each other just eight days ago in a 2-0 Tampa loss in Dunedin during the regular season.
The Yankees struck first with a run in the top of the third. Devyn Bolasky and Wes Wilson knocked back-to-back singles, placing runners on the corners with no outs. Bolasky then scored as Jorge Mateo reached on a fielder's choice, with a 4-6 play retiring Wilson at second.
Dunedin answered in the bottom of the third. Davis lined a leadoff double to center and advanced on a groundout by Jorge Flores. Tampa drew the infield in and Anthony Alford hit a sharp groundball up the middle for an RBI single, tying the game at 1-1.
Ramirez held the Blue Jays to one run on five hits in seven innings for a quality start. The 22-year-old walked two, struck out three and threw 55 of 87 pitches for strikes.
Santos tied a career-high with eight innings pitched, yielding one run on four hits. The 25-year-old tallied a career-high 10 strikeouts and allowed one walk and one hit-batter, throwing 69 of 102 pitches for strikes.
RHP Jordan Foley relieved Ramirez in the eighth and retired all nine batters he faced, striking out six over three perfect innings. RHP Eduardo Rivera worked around a leadoff walk and struck out a pair in a scoreless 11th.
Wilson threw out three potential base-stealers. The biggest of the three happened in the 12th. Jonathan Davis drew a leadoff walk against RHP Sean Carley (W, 1-0) and promptly stole second, beating Wilson's throw. With FSL RBI leader Ryan McBroom at the plate and no outs, Davis dashed for third. Wilson threw a laser and Estrada tagged out Davis. Carley went on to retire the next two hitters.
Estrada grounded a one-out single into center off RHP Chris Rowley (L, 0-1) in the top of the 13th. Torres then lined a ball into the left field corner and Estrada scored with the help of a bobble by left-fielder D.J. Davis.
RHP Dillon McNamara (SV, 1) struck out one in a perfect 13th for his first-career playoff save and his 14th total save of the season.
The T-Yanks can now claim the Florida State League North Division Championship with a win in Game Two on Wednesday night, something they have not done since their championship season in 2010. Should the Blue Jays even the series, a decisive Game Three will be played on Thursday evening.
Due to the renovation of George M. Steinbrenner Field, the Yankees will play as the "home" team in Game Two and (potentially) Game Three in Dunedin.
Wednesday will feature LHP Josh Rogers (10-5, 2.58 ERA) starting for Tampa against RHP Jon Harris (3-2, 3.60 ERA) for Dunedin. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.