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Yankees fall to Rays in Game 2 as surprising decision backfires

There was a measure of trickery afoot as Deivi García walked to the Petco Park mound on Tuesday evening, tabbed as the Yankees’ youngest starting pitcher ever in a postseason game. His first offerings were accompanied by activity in the bullpen, the 21-year-old’s outing secretly intended only to be an opening cameo.

It was a move, manager Aaron Boone acknowledged, that had been executed in hopes of exploiting a platoon advantage against the lefty-heavy Rays lineup. The results of replacing García after one inning were negligible; despite two monstrous Giancarlo Stanton homers, the Yankees fell 7-5 in Game 2 of the American League Division Series.

At 21 years and 140 days, García was 211 days younger than Whitey Ford had been in Game 4 of the 1950 World Series. The right-hander permitted a Randy Arozarena homer in a 27-pitch first inning, then yielded to veteran left-hander J.A. Happ, who was knocked for four runs in 2 2/3 innings.

One of the Yanks’ most reliable starters throughout most of the regular season, Happ permitted a two-run Mike Zunino homer in the second inning and a two-run Manuel Margot blast in the third. Tampa Bay added a run in the fifth, then Austin Meadows cracked a solo shot off Jonathan Loaisiga in the sixth.

The sputtering pitching and 18 strikeouts by the vaunted lineup — a postseason record for a nine-inning game — overshadowed another epic performance by Stanton, who homered twice off starter Tyler Glasnow, joining Lou Gehrig (1928, ’32) and Reggie Jackson (1977-78) as the only Yankees to homer in four consecutive postseason games.

Stanton tagged an opposite-field laser in the second inning that rocketed off his bat at 114.8 mph, then added a 458-foot, three-run moonshot to the back of the second deck in left field in the fourth. Stanton’s second homer came off his bat at 118.3 mph, the hardest-hit postseason homer since Statcast began tracking in 2015.