Matt Joyce's big three-run home run, plus some impressive work out of Joe Maddon's bullpen, and the Rays have put the pressure back on the Red Sox.
One thing to keep in mind about this game: The Yankees did not use their bench much at tall. You have to think that Joe Girardi will use Wednesday as a day of rest for his regulars, giving them two days off before the playoffs start. If that's the case, you have to like the Rays' chances as they send David Price to the mound looking to extend the season.
End 8th, Rays 5-3:The Rays are now three outs from ensuring that they head into the final day of the season at least tied for the wild card.
We also have a better idea of what we may see on Wednesday from the Yankeees, as Joe Girardi brought in Mariano Rivera to face one batter, presumably just to get some work in.
As it turned out, he also kept the deficit as two as he got B.J. Upton looking with a runner on second after an 11-pitch inning.
Kyle Farnsworth will be on in the ninth for the save attempt.
Mid 8th, Rays 5-3: Brandon Gomes does his job in the Tampa Bay bullpen, as he retires the Yankees in order in the top of the eighth.
He was able to get strikeouts of both Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher in the inning to help preserve the lead.
For what it's worth, the Yankees have yet to go to their bench, which means we could very well be looking at a spring training-like lineup on Wednesday.
End 7th, Rays 5-3: Rafael Soriano came in hoping to secure the lead and help pave the way to the always dominant Mariano Rivera — Yeah, about that.
Soriano promptly issued back-to-back walks to B.J. Upton and Evan Longoria to begin the frame, before giving up a three-run bomb to Matt Joyce.
Upton walked on five pitches and Longoria then worked a nine-pitch free pass. Then, on the second pitch he saw, Joyce jacked one to right.
Mid 7th, Yankees 3-2: Jake McGee comes in to work the seventh and does a good job for the Rays.
It's incredible that he actually ever gives up any runs. He's a big left-hander who throws just filthy, filthy stuff. We're talking upper 90s from the left side. Good luck with that.
Yet, he's rocking a 4.67 ERA this season. Baseball.
Time to stretch — and eat.
End 6th, Yankees 3-2: Wade allowed a single to Reid Brignac after getting Kelly Shoppach to fly out for the second out.
From there, though, the Rays couldn't push one across as Desmond Jennings flew out to right. He's now 0-for-4 on the evening.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox push their lead to 7-3 after a Marco Scutaro home run. I don't need to tell you, although I will, that this game just got a lot more important for the Rays.
Bottom 6th, Yankees 3-2: Ben Zobrist leads off the home half of the sixth with a single and that is followed by a flyout from Sean Rodriguez. That marks the end of the night for Bartolo Colon.
He gives way to Cory Wade who will likely try and bridge the gap to the late-inning trio of Soriano, Robertson and Rivera.
Mid 6th, Yankees 3-2: Wow. With one run already in, the bases loaded and only one out, Russell Martin just bounced into a 5-4-3 triple play.
It was obviously a huge play for the Rays, as Hellickson had gotten into a huge mess and showing no signs of getting any better.
Nick Swisher drove in the go-ahead run on a double, and it was a weird play itself. Mark Teixeira wasn't sure if the ball would be caught in the outfield, and he ended up not being able to score from second.
Weird, weird inning. All things considered, the Rays have felt probably felt a lot worse about trailing a game before.
End 5th, 2-2: Evan Longoria singled in the fith inning, and that, as it is many times for the Rays, was it.
Bartolo Colon has definitely bounced back after a rough start his last time out against the Rays, and that is obviously good news for Red Sox fans.
Those fans, of course, are watching intently right now as the Sox threaten to blow things open in Baltimore with a fifth-inning rally.
Mid 5th, 2-2: Things could have been much worse for Tampa Bay in the fifth inning, although they have allowed the Yankees to tie things up.
Hellickson allowed to singles to open the inning, before Curtis Granderson would ground into a double play with a man on third. It was a huge pair of outs for Hellickson, but it also tied the game at 2.
So while the Sox look to add on to their lead in Baltimore, it's now 2-2 through 4 1/2 at Tropicana Field.
End 4th, Rays 2-1: Bartolo Colon turns in a quick inning in the fourth, working around a two-out single from Reid Brignac.
Again, keep in mind that it's likely Girardi will use the entire back end of his bullpen in this game, so Colon may go five, maybe six. That inning was an important one for Colon — well, as about as important as anything can be for the Yankees right now considering they're playing for nothing.
Mid 4th, Rays 2-1: Big inning for Hellickson in the fourth. He needed just eight pitches to cut down Nick Swisher, Jorge Posada and Russell Martin.
He's not at 65 pitches, and that inning could be a big one when we look back at the end of this game.
The Rays will send the bottom of their order to the plate in the bottom half of the fourth.
End 3rd, Rays 2-1: The Rays are not very good offensively. Like, at all. They did, however, get the first two batters of the third inning on, but couldn't do anything with them.
After Evan Longoria, they're lineup is nothing to be scared of. When you take things like that into consideration, you realize that Tampa being back in this race is more a result of the Red Sox falling apart than the Rays make a charge.
Speaking of those Sox, Ryan Lavarnway picked a pretty good time for his first career home run, and Boston leads 5-1 in Baltimore.
Mid 3rd, Rays 2-1: If Russell Martin really hates the Red Sox and doesn't want them to make the playoffs, he's going about proving both of those all wrong.
He just hit his 18th home run of the year on a fat 3-1 pitch from Hellickson.
Sometimes, the shut-down innings following your team giving you some support can be the toughest.
For Hellickson, the third was not easy at all. After giving up the home run he would eventually walk the bases loaded (one intentional) before Mark Teixeira hit a deep fly ball to the warning track. Matt Joyce put it away just in front of the right-field wall.
That was a 29-pitch inning for Hellickson who is now at 57 through three.
End 2nd, Rays 2-0: Tropicana Field had something of a buzz after a Johnny Damon single to lead off the second. That buzz turned into a roar when Ben Zobrist drilled one into the right-field seats for a two-run home run.
It could have been even more, too, but Mark Teixeira's defense bailed out the Yankees. With Sean Rodriguez at third, Alex Rodriguez almost threw away a ground ball off the bat of Desmond Jennings. Instead, Teixeira makes the stop and that's it for the Rays.
Alas, Tampa Bay leads 2-0 after two, with the Red Sox taking a 2-1 lead behind Jacoby Ellsbury in Baltimore.
Mid 2nd, 0-0: Jeremy Hellickson gives up a rarity — an excuse me swing infield single to Mark Teixeira — but it's not enough to spook the 22-year-old.
He was able to work around the one-out base knock, however, retiring Nick Swisher and Jorge Posada to end the inning.
There's been mention that Joe Girardi plans on using Rafael Soriano, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera at some point in this one, which would almost certainly guarantee they'd be out of action on Wednesday.
So do with that information what you will.
End 1st, 0-0: B.J. Upton has had some baserunning issues this year and as of late, and he added to those in the bottom of the first.
After working a walk in what was a strong at-bat, Upton was immediately picked off of first base by Bartolo Colon, who at roughly 400 pounds, doesn't have the quickest feet in the world. So that should tell you how boneheaded the move was on Upton's part.
Evan Longoria then reached on an error by Nunez, but Colon got Matt Joyce to pop out to end the inning.
Meanwhile, the Orioles take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first against the Red Sox.
Mid 1st, 0-0: Jeremy Hellickson gets the Rays off to a good start, as he tossed a perfect inning to start the game.
Curtis Granderson gave the Rays a bit of a scare, but his deep fly to center turned into a flyout to B.J. Upton.
The Rays are coming up to get their first look at the man they call Bartolo … Colon.
7:10 p.m. ET: Jeremy Hellickson's first pitch to Eduardo Nunez is a strike, and things are under way in Florida.
7:05 p.m. ET: A couple of things to notice about the lineups for this one.
First, and most importantly, is the addition of Sean Rodriguez at first base for Tampa. That's because Casey Kotchman was taken to the hospital after he experienced some tightness in his chest prior to the game. He's expected to be OK, but even in the midst of a playoff push, well-being is the most important thing.
Turning to the Yankees lineup, it's one that should make Red Sox fans pretty happy. Derek Jeter is the only regular missing from the lineup. Now, that doesn't mean that the "A lineup" will play the entire night, but they'll certainly start the game opposite Hellickson.
First pitch is just minutes away.
6:50 p.m. ET: Well, here we are. It's Sept. 27, 160 games have been played and the Rays and Red Sox are deadlocked atop the wild card standings.
Of course, not even a month ago, it didn't look like it was going to get to this, but thanks to a historic collapse in Boston as well as some inspired play in St. Petersburg, the Red Sox and Rays are in a two-game race to the finish.
With one eye on the scoreboard for the Sox-Orioles game in Baltimore, the Rays will send rookie starter Jeremy Hellickson to the mound for the biggest start of his career. He'll go opposite New York's Bartolo Colon, the same Bartolo Colon who gave up seven runs (five earned) in just three innings of work his last time out — against Tampa.
Here are the lineups for Tuesday night's affair, courtesy of the LoHud Yankees Blog.
Eduardo Nunez SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Nick Swisher RF
Jorge Posada DH
Russell Martin C
Brett Gardner LF
Desmond Jennings LF
B.J. Upton CF
Evan Longoria 3B
Matt Joyce RF
Johnny Damon DH
Ben Zobrist 2B
Sean Rodriguez 1B
Kelly Shoppach C
Reid Brignac SS
Of course, follow along with all of the Red Sox-Orioles action by either tuning into NESN's coverage or follow along with NESN.com Red Sox reporter Tony Lee's live blog of all of the action by clicking here.
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