ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays did not stop the Yankees from taking the American League East this season, but in Friday's 13-4 victory, they spoiled what would have been a special night for their ace, CC Sabathia.
And in preventing Sabathia from picking up his 20th win, the Rays made some history of their own as B.J. Upton became the first in club history to hit for the cycle, racking up a career-high six RBIs and drawing a standing ovation from the Tropicana Field crowd of 22,704.
Upton said it was the first time, at any level, he had hit for the cycle — single, double, triple, home run — adding you don't swing for it, you just try to put together good at-bats.
"That was phenomenal," starter David Price said. "Hopefully, he can carry that into next year. The way he was swinging the bat is what everybody saw in the postseason last year."
Sabathia, the Yankees' $161 million left-hander, had won nine of his past 11 starts — with his last loss coming to the Rays at the Trop on July 28. Friday, Tampa Bay battered Sabathia, who matched a career high by giving up nine runs, eight hits and five walks in 22/3 innings, his second shortest outing of the season.
"We just ambushed him," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
Sabathia didn't have his typical fastball command, saying it was one of those tough nights.
"It's one of those things," he said. "The past couple years (the Rays) hit me pretty well."
And some of the Rays' biggest hits against Sabathia (19-8) came with two outs. In the first, Upton delivered the huge blow for Tampa Bay (83-77), a bases-clearing triple to right-center, a liner that got past the outstretched glove of Robinson Cano at second and a diving Nick Swisher in right.
"That was absolutely scalded," Maddon said.
That was more than enough for Price (10-7), who mixed all of his pitches well in giving up just one run in seven innings.
"It was good to have probably some of the best stuff I had all year in my last start," Price said.
For the Rays offense, Upton was the star of the show, going 5-for-5. After his triple in the first, he doubled in the third and ripped a two-run homer in the fourth, just his second homer in his past 32 games.
Then in the fifth, Upton sealed his cycle with a two-out single to rightfield, scoring Gabe Kapler from second. As Upton stood on first, fans chanted "B.J! B.J.! B.J!" and Upton pointed to the Rays dugout, acknowledging his teammates who were cheering from the top step.
"It was definitely comforting," Upton said. "We're a family together here. We stick together. To get that kind of applause feels good."
It was undoubtedly a special moment for the 25-year-old Upton, who was maligned for much of this year due to his struggles at the plate as he tried to come back from offseason shoulder surgery.
But Upton is finishing on a high note, including his career night Friday, with his six RBIs equaling his total from his previous 14 games, his five hits setting a career high and his cycle putting him in the Rays record book.
To top it off, Upton's mother, Yvonne, got to watch him complete the feat.
Upton smiled and said, "I might have to bring her back."