The Tampa Bay Rays are once again in contention for a postseason American League berth as they continue to pose a threat from the AL East.
The New York Yankees, on the other hand, are bottom of the pack in the same division because the winner of that group struggled last year.
That doesn't detract from the rivalry between these two teams, especially on Sunday when the Yankees hit four Rays batters with pitches, causing both dugouts to pour onto the field. Although there were no arguments, both sides did not like each other.
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For the Yankees, who lost another series at The Trop with a 7-4 loss on Sunday afternoon, the failure of multiple Rays could be boiling frustration or even something to fuel a dugout that wasn't too excited about yet .
But the Rays don't need players with the potential for injury, especially when facing a team that has lost playoff hopes. Brandon Lowe basically said that after the Rays won.
“If you look at it, it's a team in last place versus a team that's in the running,” Lowe told Bally Sports, noting the rivalry between the two teams. “They're trying to spark something there. Anyway, that's not worth our time right now. We're focused on bigger things right now than just a little mess on the pitch. We need these games.”
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While Lowe's comments can be seen as a shot at the Yankees, actually fueling their rivalry, it's the truth when you look at the rankings.
Like Lowe said, every game counts for the Rays right now. Although they currently lead the AL Wild Card race by six games over the Texas Rangers, they would naturally like 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 secure.
However, the Yankees are 62-68 this year, 19 games behind the AL East lead and 11 games behind third and final wildcard spot.
Unless they hit a big winning streak in the final month of the year, their playoff hopes are mathematically all but wiped out.
Randy Arozarena, who received a pitch hit from Albert Abreu that set off the bench clearance incident in the eighth inning, believes the Yankees saver hit him on purpose.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he understands Arozarena's frustration, but “nothing is done on purpose.”
Anyway, the Rays have taken advantage of a poor Yankees roster this season, winning eight of their 13 meetings on the calendar.
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These two teams are tired of meeting until next season.