The Tampa Bay Rays (62-54) are fighting for a playoff spot as September draws near and had a huge series against the spiraling New York Yankees (73-45) this week. Unfortunately for Tampa, they may have lit a fire underneath the Bronx Bombers.
Leading 7-4 in the bottom of the 10th inning, left hander Jalen Beeks loaded up the bases for the Yankees with no-outs, and then served up a pitch to Josh Donaldson on an 0-1 count that made for a terrible ending to what could have been a huge win for the Rays.
Donaldson's grand slam was about as clutch as a player can get. With his club down 3 runs in the bottom of the 10th, the Yankees' designated hitter that day launched a ball into the right field porch to give New York a much needed victory and break the spirits of the club closest to them in the AL East standings.
The Yankees have held a strong lead in the division all season long, but have struggled so much as of late that there was becoming an outside chance that a team like Tampa Bay could catch them before the end of September. In order to do so though, the Rays would need to take advantage of every matchup with New York, and falling to the Yankees in this fashion not only sucks the life out of a club, not now increased the gap between the clubs to 10 games.
For Tampa Bay, the hope is the club can shake off the disappointment quickly as they continue their fight in the AL Wild Card. Tampa Bay currently is tied with Toronto for the 2nd Wild Card, trailing Seattle for the 1st Wild Card by just 1.5 games but also have 3 teams within 2 games of them and the Blue Jays for the last two Wild Cards.
In spite the disappointing loss, the Rays were able to take two of three from New York and now have a four game set against the Kansas City Royals and a three game set with the Los Angeles Angels following that. If Tampa bounces back well, they could add a few games of cushion to their Wild Card standing.