ST. PETERSBURG (CBS) It took nearly an entire season for the Rays to do it, but they finally leveled the playing field with Boston Monday night.
Tampa Bay’s 5-2 win against the Yankees at Tropicana Field created a deadlock in the AL Wild Card race as Boston dropped their 10th loss in 13 games against the Orioles last night.
With three games left against the New York Yankees, Tampa Bay ultimately controls their own fate in a race to the postseason.
James Shields (16-12) pitched a gem last night, going 8 2/3 innings and giving up only two runs on six hits. He was on the verge of completing his 12th complete game of the year, but his pitch count was increasing and Joe Maddon brought in Kyle Farnsworth to close the game out in the ninth.
As a team, the Rays have been playing fundamentally sound baseball, and quite frankly it has been a treat to watch Maddon’s squad grow and develop during their playoff run in September.
The only batter for the Yankees that gave Shields trouble was Robinson Cano. He homered off Shields in the first and drove in Brett Gardner in the third to give New York a 2-0 lead.
Tampa Bay responded with three runs in the bottom of the third from a two-run double by B.J Upton and an RBI single from Johnny Damon to give the Rays a 3-2 lead. Kelly Shoppach extended the lead in the fourth with a solo homer to put the Rays up 4-2.
Desmond Jennings stole the show in the fifth with a spectacular diving catch in left field that diminished any kind of momentum the Yankees might have had.
The play summed up the kind of effort the Rays have put forth to place themselves in a position to potentially win the AL Wild Card after being nine games out in the first days of September.
The odds are against the Rays as they face the best team in the American League for three more games, but for Tampa Bay the slate is clean and the stage is set.