Rays-Yankees, separated by just feet through seven meetings, playoff preview?


New York – in Yankees They were going down a run against their opponent in the division rays. Two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. Aaron Judge in the dish, Tampa Bay closer Jason Adam on the hill. 42,116 anxious fans showed up, most of them standing. Tension boils with each degree.

Only the pleasant spring weather and Mother’s Day paraphernalia served as a reminder that this series was taking place in mid-May, not late-October. By all accounts, the four-game struggle in the Bronx looked like a sneak peek into the postseason. Sunday afternoon’s final was no exception.

The judge called on Adam’s first show, a 79-mph broom that plummeted into the heart of the strike zone, right into the champ’s wheelhouse. The pitch fell into the middle quarter of the area where, last year, Judge racked up 14 home runs of his record-breaking 62 total runs. He just let the judge tie the match?

As the judge watched the ball sail into the caution’s path in left center field, Adam put his hands on his knees and leaned exaggeratedly, similar to a folded-forward yoga pose. But there was nothing calm and relaxing about this moment. The game was on the line, as was the series. If this knockout ball goes over the wall, the Yankees will be far from staging another unlikely comeback against the MVP in the East. For a few fleeting seconds, Adam seemed to believe this conclusion. But at 60 feet six inches into the ball’s flight, the mighty judge knew better.

“I hit her really well,” the judge said later. “But right off the bat, I hit it really high. And especially how deep there it is, you kind of pray for a miracle.”

The baseball gods sent that prodigy to Tampa Bay. When Adam finally positioned himself enough to stand up from his front yard, he snuck a look into left center field just in time to watch Jose Seri Aim for the final exit, a pace or two in front of the wall. Relief seemed to overwhelm Adam, as he placed his hand over his heart and mouthed, “Wow.” The giant smile that came after that gave a glimpse of the tightrope that was walking.

The Rays won Sunday afternoon’s final game, 8-7, and split the series with the Yankees to cap off a weekend filled with twists, turns, home runs, amazing diving catches and hard-to-be-believable rallies. Down to the last, last-minute pitch, the Rays-Yankees series was hugely entertaining.

“I thought it was 30 rows deep,” Adam said of Judge’s final exit. “This whole series was a tough series. It was a battle on both sides.”

The series was a dogfight because the Yankees (23-19) played with an advantage not seen this season. The Rays, with a 31-11 record representing the best in MLBDon’t let the Yankees’ efforts thwart their own goals.

Randy Arosarina Antics on both sides of the ball, including a first-run home run off the Ace Gerrit Cole On Friday, it was a thrill to watch. Cole responded when asked about Arosarina’s cross-arm celebration – “He does it every time, right?” Cole sneered, “It’s expected.” – brought another layer of spice to the fiery rivalry. Yankees rookie Anthony Fulp Aided by five hits, two home runs, four RBI efforts across 11 at-bats from Friday through Sunday New York An attitude that never dies. Seven Tampa Bay Hitters with an OPS of .875 or better make for a slew of at-bats to watch.

The level of talent at each club has resulted in a competitive streak that has us all aching for more.

“The Yankees were tough,” said the Rays player. Taylor Wallswho smashed a New York-turned-player grand slam Clark Schmidt Sunday. “Every time we got a lead they would respond. They would either take it back by putting in some runs or match what we did the previous half. They are a good ball club, especially with the judge back. Their line-up is dangerous. We did that. You guys don’t have a comfortable lead.” enough “.

The Yankees live and die by the judge’s bat, which is at least in part why the New York-Tampa Bay matchup didn’t have the same competitive energy as just a week ago, when the Rays hosted the Yankees in St. Petersburg. In that series, the Rays acted like the better team because they undoubtedly were. They took two out of three. A judge-sized gap in the Yankees lineup put the Bombers in trouble before that series even began.

But with the judge back from injury – truly Once again, with his swing back in form and the raucous, passionate Bronx crowd working in his favor — the Yankees got their groove back. Since Judge’s return from the injured list on May 9, the Yankees have scored 45 points and raised their team’s slugging percentage from . 394 to . 415, as well as their team OPS from . 695 to . 723, all in just six games. In the 10 games Judge missed with a groin injury, the Yankees suffered their first four-game losing streak of the season and scored just 35 points. What difference does the judge make.

The Yankees identity is built around fighting. With Judge, the Yankees are a threat to win even when they’re trailing 6-0, which they did on Saturday. Judge homered twice and drove in four runs in a thrilling 9-8 comeback. peer Anthony Rizzowho seemed to do better when the judge was batting in front of him, went deep three times throughout the series, including twice on Friday to help beat off Cole’s start.

Anthony Rizzo of the Yankees hits a two-run home run in the third inning against the Rays

What other team has a penchant for scratching and scratching? Ah yes, rays. Behind their stacked lineup and solid pitching, they erased deficit after deficit against the Yankees, both at home last week and in the roaring Bronx atmosphere last weekend. Tampa Bay right Drew Rasmussen He continued his dominance of the Yankees on Thursday with seven scoreless innings. Adam, for the fifth time this season in Sunday’s final game, claimed the Rays’ victories in the series. Back-to-back fights this weekend were the best thing on TV, lola NBA qualifiers.

Again, it’s only May. But try telling these two stick thugs that. The Rays and Yankees approached this series as if their seasons would be over if they didn’t come out on top. Sadly, the four-game set was yet another reminder that during this time of year a fight can end in a tie, or split, not a season-ending blow. Later, the judge said he was disappointed with the outcome; His team would only satisfy the Yankees with a series victory. On the other side of the stadium, the Rays were still riding high from the fifth inning on Walls’ grand slam off the right. Albert Abreu That puts Tampa Bay over the top forever.

“We’re up against the best,” said the judge of the troublesome rays. “They bring it in every night; we bring it in every single at bat. There was a lot of gutsy hitting. It’s fun to be a part of.”

And it’s fun to watch those enemies, too. We’ve just seen this Rays-Yankees rivalry go up another notch in intensity with these seven games. Did seven of them order too much in October?

Disha Thosar He is the MLB writer for FOX Sports. She previously covered the Mets for three and a half seasons as a good correspondent for the New York Daily News. The daughter of Indian immigrants, Disha grew up on Long Island and now lives in Queens. Never miss a Rafael Nadal match, no matter what country or time zone he’s playing in. Follow her on Twitter at @employee.

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