The New York Yankees made it just about as difficult as they possibly could, but they defeated the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday to avoid a Game 163 and guarantee themselves a spot in the AL Wild Card Game.
Manager Aaron Boone did a tremendous job managing the pitching staff in this one, which is exactly what the team needed from him considering the offense could muster just a single run in the 1-0 victory.
What a turn of events, really, considering Boone’s decision making on Friday doomed the Bombers in their 4-3 loss. A win to open the series really would’ve set the tone and put pressure on the Red Sox, but what did we expect? The Yankees weren’t going to have everything go their way.
Nonetheless, the Yankees’ end-of-season run has gotten guys to open up a bit more and show some confidence. Aaron Judge, for example, has been celebrating like a maniac during big moments and offering some spicy quotes to the media. We’re loving it.
Is Boone joining in on the fun now? That would really be a game-changer in terms of providing a culture shock, given how flat and unmotivated the Bombers seemed to be for much of the year.
Following the victory over the Rays, Boone was asked about his pitching staff, given how the unit in its entirety stymied Tampa’s offense and was largely responsible for the Yankees clinching their postseason berth, and here’s what he had to say:
Did Yankees manager Aaron Boone take a shot at Rays manager Kevin Cash?
Hmmm. Let’s rewind back to almost exactly a year ago.
The Rays were facing the Yankees in New York. Aroldis Chapman was on the verge of closing out a win and he threw a 101 MPH fastball at the head of Mike Brosseau. It didn’t hit him, but it was still wildly dangerous, and Chapman actually served a suspension for the act at the beginning of this season.
At the time, the umps didn’t issue a warning, and Rays manager Kevin Cash absolutely lost it, and he was even more unhappy when the Yankees apparently talked trash to Brosseau when he struck out to end the game. And that’s when Cash went off when speaking to the media about the incident.
He claimed he had a “whole damn stable of pitchers that throw 98 MPH” which seemingly served as a stern warning/threat for the Yankees should this contentious back and forth continue. In the end, the Rays got the last laugh, making some dumb t-shirts and hats commemorating Cash’s comments and then taking down the Bombers in Game 5 of the ALDS.
While the Yankees didn’t get the last laugh this time around since they’ll be playing in the AL Wild Card Game while the Rays get a nice rest until Thursday, Boone (whether intentional or not) alluding to last year’s beef between these two sides could set up a tension-fueled ALDS matchup should the Bombers take down the Sox on Tuesday.
We just can’t seem to get rid of the Rays, and if that’s the case, the Yankees should at least try to apply the pressure by any means possible … even if it means Boone has to uncharacteristically throw shade in an attempt to get a leg up on the mental side of the game.