Manager Aaron Boone and his Yankees had nice things to say about the Rays after earning the spot in the American League Division Series against them starting Monday in San Diego.
"They’ve been the best team in our league all year,'' Boone said. "So we’re excited to go play the best team.
"Hopefully we can have our way with them this time. We know they’re going to be a challenge. We know they’re going to be tough. We know they’ll be ready for us. But we look forward to that challenge and hopefully we can turn the tables on them.''
The Rays beat the Yankees eight out of 10 times in a season series filled with chirping between teams. A heated confrontation came after Aroldis Chapman threw a 100-mph fastball at the head of Mike Brosseau in the Sept. 1 game.
After Wednesday’s game, Chapman was complimentary about the Rays and seemingly uninterested in stoking the rivalry or revisiting the incident.
"They have a really good team, and we’ve had really good games between us the last couple years,'' he said via a team translator. "For us, it’s to focus on our goal and do the best we can game-by-game.''
Chapman’s pitch at Brosseau’s head led to criticism — and the now famous stable reference — from Rays manager Kevin Cash and a three-game suspension that has been appealed, with the hearing delayed until 2021.
Asked whether he expected the hard feelings to re-surface in the best-of-five division series that will be played on consecutive days at neutral site Petco Park, Chapman said: "You’ve got to understand we have a rivalry, we play in the same division and we’re trying to do the same thing, which is win. I’ve got to say whatever happened happened, that’s in the past. We’ve got to put that aside and focus on the series ahead. Especially Game 1, we want to go and get a win.'’
After a wild back-and-forth 10-9 series-sweeping win over the Indians that took a Major League nine-inning game record 4 hours and 50 minutes to play, Boone said they were just happy to be moving on to the next round.
"We’re excited in that room,'' he said. "We’re excited for the opportunity to continue our quest now in San Diego to try and win a championship.''