The champagne will remain on ice for at least one more night in The Bronx, though now there are only two days left for the Yankees to actually pop it.
Entering Friday night with a chance to clinch a wild card — needing a win and some help elsewhere — the Yankees got neither as they lost to the Rays 4-3 despite a wild ninth-inning comeback attempt.
Behind them in the AL wild-card race, the Red Sox beat the Nationals to climb within one game of the Yankees. The Blue Jays also topped the Orioles to survive another day, getting within two games of the Yankees. The Mariners, who were tied with the Red Sox for the second wild card to begin the day, played late against the Angels, though even a loss by Seattle would not clinch the Yankees anything on Friday night.
The Rays (99-61) led just 2-1 heading to the ninth inning, but Domingo German, in his first action since July 31, walked a pair of batters who came around to score on Wander Franco’s two-run single off Albert Abreu. Those runs provided Tampa Bay with a 4-1 lead for some breathing room.
That proved huge in the bottom of the inning, when the Yankees (91-69) finally showed some life offensively. Giancarlo Stanton ripped a one-out double, took third on defensive indifference and scored on a bunt single by Joey Gallo — perfectly placed down the third-base line against the shift and a four-man outfield.
After Gio Urshela cracked a single, Brett Gardner lined another single to right field to score Gallo and make it 4-3.
But pinch-hitter Gary Sanchez and Rougned Odor, who started in place of the injured DJ LeMahieu (hip), both struck out against Andrew Kittredge to end the game.
The Yankees offense was otherwise held in check by Shane McClanahan and the Rays bullpen. The Yankees had just five hits through the first eight innings.
The Rays, who had already wrapped up the top seed in the American League by the time they arrived in The Bronx, struck first. Nelson Cruz skied a home run off Nestor Cortes Jr. in the first inning to hand the Rays a 1-0 lead.
But the Yankees came back to tie it up in the bottom of the inning against the lefty starter McClanahan. Gleyber Torres led off with a double and later took third on a wild pitch. With two outs, Stanton ripped a single to score Torres.
The Rays took the lead back in the second. Manuel Margot and Francisco Mejia hit infield singles before Kevin Kiermaier blooped another single beyond the reach of Urshela at shortstop. Margot scored to make it 2-1 Rays, but Gallo threw Mejia out at third to end the inning.
Cortes settled in from there, retiring the next eight Rays before giving up a triple to Kiermaier with two outs in the fifth. That knocked Cortes out of the game, but Clay Holmes came in to strike out Randy Arozarena to strand Kiermaier.
Holmes got the first two outs of the sixth, then walked Yandy Diaz. Manager Aaron Boone brought in lefty Wandy Peralta to face the left-handed hitting Ji-Man Choi, who struck out to end the inning.
Peralta put two runners on with two outs in the top of the seventh, leading to Boone asking Jonathan Loaisiga to put out the fire. Loaisiga walked Arozarena to load the bases, but then outlasted Franco in an eight-pitch at-bat to strike him out on a 100 mph sinker.
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