Giancarlo Stanton, left, and Aaron Judge, of the New York Yankees, in 2018. Photo credit: Keith Allison, via Wikimedia Commons

Giancarlo Stanton sealed the deal for his New York Yankees Monday at Petco Park as he hit a ninth inning grand slam to help defeat the Tampa Bay Rays 9-3 in the first game of their American League Division Series.

After early scoring, the teams settled down, as the Yankees carried a 4-3 lead into the ninth.

Tampa Bay, the AL’s top playoff seed, had enjoyed a 3-2 lead in the 4th, on Ji-Man Choi’s two-run homer. The Yankees answered that shot in fifth, taking the lead when Kyle Higashioka and Aaron Judge each hit solo home runs.

Stanton, meanwhile, again enjoyed his day at Petco, where he won the 2016 All-Star Home Run Derby with a record 61 homers while still a member of the Florida Marlins.

The Rays defeated the Blue Jays to move on to the best-of-five division series. The Yankees, the AL’s No. 5 seed, defeated the Cleveland Indians to earn their spot.

Game 2 begins at 5:10 p.m. Tuesday.

San Diego is playing host to one of the two AL Division Series, as part of Major League Baseball’s plan to use neutral sites in response to the pandemic. The other, at Dodger Stadium, pits the Houston Astros against the Oakland Athletics.

The Astros took a 1-0 lead in that series with a 10-5 win.

The National League’s two Division Series take place in Texas beginning Tuesday. In one, the San Diego Padres face the Los Angeles Dodgers, in Arlington, while the Atlanta Braves clash with the Marlins in Houston.

– Staff reports

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