Thank you, Rays??? Never thought we’d be saying that, but we have to give credit where it’s due. Tampa just took two out of three from the Toronto Blue Jays to help give the New York Yankees a playoff spot, and in the process played some mind games with the up-and-coming AL team.
On Monday, Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier was thrown out at home plate and, after he was tagged, it was clear that Jays catcher Alejandro Kirk had a piece of paper fall out of his pocket. Kirk immediately went back to the dugout since that play ended the inning while Kiermaier remained on the ground after his slide for a few seconds. The piece of paper caught his eye, and he picked it up.
Kiermaier, who famously lacks any sort of tact, obviously made a boneheaded move since … cameras and social media exist. Did he forget that? This was a play at the plate in the sixth inning of a 4-2 game. Of course we were going to see replay after replay with the camera zoomed in on Kirk and Kiermaier!
That piece of paper had Toronto’s pitching plan for the series which detailed how they would attack the Rays’ lineup. So, understandably, the Blue Jays were mad.
The Jays got revenge on Tuesday with a victory, but it seems the bad blood boiled over on Wednesday.
Apparently, moments after Kiermaier swiped the card on Monday, the Jays sent their bat boy to the Rays dugout to get it back, but Tampa reportedly “scoffed” at the request.
The Rays helped the Yankees by getting in the Blue Jays’ head.
So, on Wednesday night, in the bottom of the eighth inning when Kiermaier stepped into the batter’s box, Jays reliever Ryan Borucki plunked him in the back with a fastball. At that point, the game was out of reach with the Rays up 7-1 (perhaps due to a clear benefit from knowing the pitching plans!)
The benches cleared and now the Jays are focusing on all the wrong things as they head into the final stretch fighting for a playoff spot with a razor thin margin for error.
Will this destroy the Blue Jays’ chemistry? Probably not, but every little bit helps, especially since the Yankees have a three-game set with them next week that will likely determine the final Wild Card spot. Maybe this motivates the Jays! Who knows, but this is a very young team, and when we see these kinds of incidents rattle inexperienced rosters, rarely does it turn into a rallying cry.
Rather, it serves as a distraction, and will likely continue to do so since the Rays won the series and altered the Jays’ path to the postseason.
The Yankees just swept the Rangers — nothing admirable, but they got the job done. If they can carry that momentum (dream on, idiot!) into Boston and steal the weekend series against the Sox, we can only hope they run into an off-their-axis Blue Jays team.
Though if Toronto fumbles the bag in their four-game set against Minnesota this weekend, the job may already be 75% completed for New York.