The Tampa Bay Rays are once again contending for a postseason berth in the American League, as they continue to be a threat out of the AL East.
The New York Yankees, on the other hand, are in dead last place in the same division, as the winners of that group last year have struggled mightily.
That doesn’t stop the rivalry between these two teams, especially on Sunday when the Yankees hit four Rays batters with pitches, which caused both dugouts to pour onto the field. Though no altercations occurred, both sides did not like one another.
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For the Yankees, who lost yet another series at The Trop in a 7-4 defeat on Sunday afternoon, the plunking of multiple Rays could be frustration boiling over, or even something to fire up a dugout that hasn’t had much to be overly excited for.
But the Rays don’t need players potentially getting injured, especially when it’s against a team that doesn’t have playoff hopes alive. Brandon Lowe basically said so after the Rays’ win.
“Looking at it, it is a last-place team against a team that is in contention,” Lowe told Bally Sports, noting the rivalry the two teams have. “They’re trying to ignite something over there. Whatever, not worth our time at this moment. We’re focused on bigger things right now than a little on-field scuff. We need these games.”
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While Lowe’s comments can be viewed as a shot at the Yankees, even furthering their rivalry, it’s the truth when you look at the standings.
Like Lowe said, every game for the Rays counts right now. While they do lead the AL Wild Card race right now by six games over the Texas Rangers, they’d obviously love to win the division instead.
One of MLB’s best stories this season has been the Baltimore Orioles, who have the AL’s best record at 81-49. But, with the Rays right behind them at 80-52, their lead is far from safe.
The Yankees, though, are 62-68 on the year, sitting 19 games back of the AL East lead and 11 games behind for the third and final wild card spot.
Unless they go on a massive win streak in the final month of the year, their playoff hopes are all but mathematically eliminated.
Randy Arozarena, who was the recipient of an Albert Abreu hit-by-pitch that sparked the benches-clearing incident in the eighth inning, believes the Yankees reliever hit him on purpose.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he understands Arozarena’s frustration, but “nothing’s happening on purpose.”
Either way, the Rays have taken advantage of a bad Yankees squad this season, winning eight of their 13 meetings on the calendar.
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These two teams are done meeting each other until next season.