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Rays 1, Yankees 2: Swept out of the division race

A 12-game deficit feels insurmountable.

Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Leaving the Bronx with just one win wouldn’t have been something to celebrate about, but picking up that win in the series finale would’ve left a nice taste in fans’ mouths before a weekend set against the Orioles. It might not have even been enough to keep the Rays in the race for the AL East title, with Yankees lapping the field and showing no signs of stopping.

The pitching was definitely good enough to give the Rays a shot, even with Drew Rasmussen not starting today as he was placed on the injured list with a hamstring issue.

Jalen Beeks served as the opener, and a slew of Rays relievers kept the Yankees' world-beating bats at bay for as long as they could. Beeks is in the midst of a career season, coming in with a 1.38 ERA over 26 innings, and striking out 32% of batters faced.

The Yankees also had to change their pitching plans, with starter Luis Severino scratched due to flu-like symptoms. He has not yet tested positive for COVID-19. They went with Clarke Schmidt to start things out, who spent his entire minor league career as a starter, but has shifted into a bullpen role with the big league club this year. Thursday marked his first start of the season, and only his third career start and entered with a 3.26 ERA over 19.1 innings pitched.

Beeks got through two shutout innings before turning it over to Matt Wisler who threw two more. Francisco Mejía stepped in with one out in the fifth and a man on first, that man being Harold Ramirez. Ramirez singled but would be caught stealing during Mejía’s at bat. That didn’t stop Mejía from producing the first and only run of the game for the Rays, sending a pitch from recently-recalled Ryan Weber into the right field second deck. Who knows what would have happened had Ramirez stayed put at first, but all it took was two runs to win tonight’s game.

Brooks Raley pitched a scoreless fifth, and was brought back out to face the eight and nine hitters in New York’s lineup in the sixth. Then with two outs, Kevin Cash turned to Ryan Thompson. He walked DJ LeMahieu and then Aaron Judge, and a single from Anthony Rizzo tied the game at one. He was lifted for Jason Adam without recording an out.

The game remained tied into the ninth inning, with the Rays failing to record a hit after the Mejía home run. After using Brooks Raley, Jason Adam, and Colin Poche in earlier innings, Shawn Armstrong was sent out to face the meat of the Yankees’ order in the ninth. He got AL MVP candidate Aaron Judge to fly out to right field, but Anthony Rizzo drove in his second run of the game on a walk-off home run to right field, finishing off the sweep of the Rays.

The Rays find themselves 12 games behind the Yankees, and seemingly out of the race to secure a third-straight division title. They travel to Baltimore for a three-game set this weekend before returning home for another shot at the Bronx Bombers, who lead the season series five games to two.