Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Rays rally to beat New York Yankees 5-3 and stay tied with Boston Red Sox in AL wild-card race

ST. PETERSBURG — Their first baseman was in the hospital being checked for chest pains. Their top setup man wasn't available to pitch. Their cleanup hitter was limping all afternoon with his sore right foot wrapped.

And with Boston leading in Baltimore, their hopes were fading.

But the Rays, after adding a triple play to their remarkable story, rallied again, beating the Yankees 5-3.

And by tonight, they could be in the midst of a most unanticipated champagne celebration.

"I hope so," manager Joe Maddon said. "It would be outstanding. I'm a good partier."

Casey Kotchman passed all tests and was released from the hospital. Joel Peralta hopes to be back in the bullpen tonight. And Tampa native Matt Joyce's foot wasn't nearly as sore — "It felt great running around the bases" — after his three-run seventh-inning homer pushed the Rays from behind to the final day of the season still tied with the Red Sox for the AL wild card.

If the Rays (90-71) win and the Sox lose in Baltimore, the Rays — after the appropriate celebration — are headed off to open the playoffs Friday in Texas or Detroit. If they both win, or lose, there will be a one-game playoff at 4:07 Thursday at Tropicana Field. If the Rays lose and the Red Sox win, the Rays go home frustrated by coming so far and falling short.

"We really want to take it in our hands," Joyce said. "We want to control our destiny."

They'll put the ball in the hands of lefty flamethrower David Price, against a Yankees fill-in starter who manager Joe Girardi said only will be named by 7:10, and a team presumably much more interested in getting home to be ready for its own playoff opener.

Price, who has pitched in all three of the Rays' postseason elimination games, said he welcomed the opportunity to pitch the most important of their 2,265 regular-season games.

"Absolutely," he said. "Why wouldn't I? … Obviously it's going to be the biggest game for the Rays in 2011 and one of the biggest games for the Rays in team history. Hopefully we can come in here and play some good baseball and get a win."

They found a way Tuesday, none more stunning than the triple play they turned in the sixth — down a run, after walking the bases loaded in the hopes of getting two outs — that dramatically turned the momentum of the game. "You're kind of in uh-oh mind frame," Joyce said. "That just changed everything."

The six outs they got from rookie relievers Jake McGee and Brandon Gomes in Peralta's absence to bridge the gap from starter Jeremy Hellickson to closer Kyle Farnsworth weren't bad, either. "How about it?" Maddon said.

Nor was seeing Joyce, the Armwood High grad, hobbling out of the dugout for a curtain call from the raucous Tropicana Field crowd of 22,820 after his dramatic blast off former teammate Rafael Soriano, who walked B.J. Upton and Evan Longoria to start the inning. It was the Rays' only hit of the night with a runner in scoring position, having gone 0-for-7 before and 0-for-2 after.

"I think that definitely tops any kind of big hit that I've ever had," Joyce said. "To be in the situation we're in, with two games left, we're down a run and the season's pretty much riding on the line, that was one of the most thrilling hits I've ever been a part of."

Maddon sees it all as more reason to believe they can complete their dramatic dash (15-8 since Sept. 3) — and take advantage of Boston's historic collapse — to become the first team to make the postseason after being nine games out in September.

"All the indicators are there, let's just keep pushing," Maddon said. "When those things kinda show up, it really promotes even more fight. There's more of a believability about the moment."

Or, as Joyce said, "there's definitely something special about this team."

Marc Topkin can be reached at

Tampa Bay Rays rally to beat New York Yankees 5-3 and stay tied with Boston Red Sox in AL wild-card race 09/27/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 28, 2011 7:35am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays up next: vs. Blue Jays, 7:10 p.m. Tuesday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: Off

    Up next: vs. Blue Jays, 7:10 p.m. Tuesday, Tropicana Field.

  2. Tom Jones' Two Cents: Bucs, Jaguars both get blame for terrible preseason ratings

    TV and Radio

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst of a weekend in televised sports.

    Worst matchup

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) tries to get past Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Brian Dixon (41) and safety Barry Church (42) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack) JVS119
  3. Roger Mooney's takeaways from Sunday's Rays-Mariners game

    The Heater

    This is the Blake Snell everyone has been waiting for. Working off his fastball. Challenging hitters. Staying focused regardless of how many runners are on base. Snell has pitched at least six innings for three straight starts. He had a rough start to the year, but it looks like he has figured it out.

  4. Blake Snell shines as Rays beat Mariners to end skid (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Blake Snell delivered the best outing of his young career and the Rays offense continued its home run-hitting ways for a 3-0 victory Sunday against the Mariners in front of 13,354 at Tropicana Field.

    Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) with starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) after the top of the seventh inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.
  5. Bucs' Demar Dotson should be back from injury next week


    The Bucs got good news on starting right tackle Demar Dotson, whose MRI showed only a mild right groin sprain and should be back at practice next week.

    Bucs tackle Demar Dotson, shown last year when he signed a three-year contract extension, should only miss a week of practice with his groin injury and can return healthy for the Bucs' season opener at Miami in three weeks. [Octavio Jones | Times]