altogetherGame time: 3:05 p.m. ET
Venue: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY
Where to watch: Bally Sports Sun, YES
Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks
Rays: 100-61 (Clinched American League East, home-field advantage in AL Playoffs)
Yankees: 91-70 (2nd place, AL East)
Ben Burns has been around long enough to know that it's never over until it's over. Last night was a painful reminder. The Diamondbacks had a 7-0 lead entering the sixth inning, yet couldn't seal the deal. Off that tough loss and now 8-3 his last 11 MLB, Ben HITS BACK HARD Saturday. Catch Ben’s and other plays available right now at the Shop Picks page, where you can find all of the Best Bets from our champion sports handicappers.
Rays - Yankees preview and analysis
Rays: 7-3 in last 10
Yankees: lost 2 straight
The ball is in the New York Yankees' court, er, field. One win and they're in the playoffs.
The dastardly Tampa Bay Rays are not making this easy on the Bronx Bombers.
With a home Wild Card game within reach, the Yankees are a win away from getting a chance for yet another World Series championship. But after the Rays took Game 2 of the series on Saturday in Yankee Stadium, the American League East champions have decided to make the Yankees sweat a little bit.
The path to the World Series in the American League will go through Tropicana Field. The Rays at the very least are dictating who gets the opportunity to face them. Brandon Lowe hit three home runs on Saturday, and Mike Zunino also hit a homer to the Yankees' seats.
New York's playoff chances dwindle into uncertainty minute by minute. At the time of publishing, the Yankees lead the Boston Red Sox by one game for the top wild-card spot. The juicy details lie below Boston. The Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays are even at 89-71 entering Saturday and can still force a glorious four-way tie should Seattle and Toronto win out, while Boston goes 1-1 and the Yankees 0-2 (the first part of that seems likely).
Seven players had at least two hits for the Rays on Saturday, a sign that their offense is turning it on at the right time. Lowe, Zunino, Wander Franco, and Randy Arozarena had three hits, but the offense was carried by Lowe's seven RBI and giving him 39 homers this season.
In a sense, the Rays have something to play for, but not as paramount as the Yankees. After all the moves they made at the trade deadline -- acquiring Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo to fortify an already-stacked power lineup -- New York could go from a straight shot to making the playoffs to now falling out of favor all together. Imagine going from a surefire thing to now needing to win a Game 163 and 164 in order to make the Division Series ... all to face the Rays again.
The Yankees picked a horrible time for their middle bats to go cold. Rizzo and Aaron Judge went 1-for-3, Gallo went 1-for-4, but Giancarlo Stanton cooled off with an 0-for-4 afternoon with three strikeouts. Jordan Montgomergy lasted only 2.2 innings and gave up seven runs while walking three. The New York pitching staff had 10 strikeouts but allowed 19 hits and five homers.
Safe to say that this is going to be one highly-anticipated Sunday afternoon of games. Michael Wacha will get the call for the Rays on the mound, while the Yankees at the time of publishing have yet to name a starter. We do expect it to be Jameson Taillon, however.
It's been an up-and-down last five starts for Wacha. He's allowed two runs or less in five of his last six starts; the only outlier was giving up six on Sept. 15 against the Blue Jays. Now that the Rays have won 100 games for the first time in franchise history, Tampa can take a well-earned rest. But I suspect the Rays really want to enforce this chaos and make it a possibility. The Yankees have decided to make things exciting, so why shouldn't the Rays choose to let four teams fight it out in order to face them? Rays win 7-4
The Rays are 47-32 (+15.4 net games on the money line) on the road this season.
The Yankees are 10-16 (-15.8 net games) in Sunday games this season.
Randy Arozarena (R) RF
Wander Franco (S) SS
Nelson Cruz (R) DH
Yandy Diaz (R) 3B
Brandon Lowe (L) 2B
Mike Zunino (R) C
Manuel Margot (R) CF
Austin Meadows (L) LF
Francisco Mejia (S) 1B
Gleyber Torres (R) 2B
Anthony Rizzo (L) 1B
Aaron Judge (R) RF
Giancarlo Stanton (R) DH
Joey Gallo (L) LF
Gio Urshela (R) 3B
Brett Gardner (L) CF
Gary Sanchez (R) C
Andrew Velazquez (S) SS
Probable starting pitchers: Michael Wacha (TB) vs. Jameson Taillon (NYY)
Batting average: Randy Arozarena (.274)
Hits: Randy Arozarena (144)
Home runs: Brandon Lowe (39)
RBI: Austin Meadows (106)
Stolen bases: Randy Arozarena (19)
Wins: Two tied (10)
Saves: Diego Castillo (14)
Batting average: Aaron Judge (.288)
Hits: DJ LeMahieu (160)
Home runs: Aaron Judge (39)
RBI: Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton (97)
Stolen bases: Tyler Wade (17)
Wins: Gerrit Cole (16)
Saves: Aroldis Chapman (30)
ERA: Gerrit Cole (3.23)
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