Rays-fans are an interesting species within the baseball world. His hate for the Yankees is so great that he will pay premium prices to see them, then not show up at the “Trop” for the rest of the season. When the Yankees defeat his beloved Rays, its because of the Yankees’ huge payroll. When the Rays win, its because of superior genetics, skill, acumen, intelligence. With that stated, half of tonight’s game will be decked out in pinstripes, or the away-New York grays. Many of us here in Tampa Bay are transplanted Yankees fans who, it must be admitted, are routinely amazed at the amazing feats the Rays franchise has accomplished with so little in the way of revenue streams or ticket sales. As we embark upon the first series of the 2013 season between the Rays and Yankees, I thought I’d provide a little history in the form of the …..
5 Most Memorable Yankees-Rays Games
- September 25, 1999 – Tampa Bay (then, the Devil Rays) defeats New York 2-1 for their first franchise victory over the Yankees. Luis Arrojo had gone 7-11 in 24 starts for the Devil Rays that year and amassed a 5.18 ERA. He didn’t pitch particularly well, striking out only four and walking five across 7 innings. David Cone, meanwhile, gave up 11 hits, but struck out 8 and walked only 2. This was more of a Yankees loss than a Devil Rays victory, but it was nevertheless a huge moment in Tampa Bay. “Hate” would be a mild way of describing Tampa Fan’s feelings towards his northeastern, strange-tawlkin’, AL East brethern. This was a BIG moment in Tampa Bay sports.
- April 13, 2009 – Rays defeat Yanks 15-5. This one was bad. I was there. This was the first home game for the reigning AL champions Rays. They used the occasion to hang their first franchise AL pennant from “the Trop” in front of a sell-out crowd of 36,793 fans (about half of whom were Yankees fans). Chien Ming Wang did his best impression of a light bulb, giving up a grand slam to famed Yankee-killer Carlos Pena and surrendering 9 runs in two innings. The Rays would tack on an additional 6 runs over the next 7 innings. Derek Jeter began that season in something of a slump, going 1 for 20 to start the season. He noted that “”It was their day, an opportunity to celebrate what they did last season, and they had their way.” The most interesting part of that game was when Joe Girardi called Nick Swisher out of right field to pitch in the 8th inning. He was the first position player to pitch for the Yankees since Wade Boggs did in 1997, and the only pitcher ( of the six that pitched that game) not to surrender a run to the Rays. The Yankees went on to win their last World Series that year though – pay backs are hell.
- April 6, 2012 – Rays defeat Yanks 7-6. I realize we’re a little heavy on the Rays’ victories here, but this one was important for two reasons. First, Joe Girardi made arguably the dumbest move of his otherwise pretty impressive career. How dumb? Would you put CC Sabathia in a position on opening day where he had to pitch to noted Yankee-killer Carlos Pena? Well, he did, in the first inning. Rays 4-0, bottom of the first inning. It looked like CC might have been doing his Chein Ming Wang impression. He settled down, and the Yankees actually gained the lead, 6-4. In the ninth, with Mariano Rivera on the mound and two outs, once again, Girardi decided it best to load the bases so that Rivera had to face, yep, Carlos Pena again, who proceeded to hit a walk-off single to win the game. To be fair, Pena was 0-11 lifetime versus the Sandman. Prior to that, the Rivera was a perfect 60 for 60 saves versus the Rays.
- July 3, 2012 – Yankees defeat Rays 4-3, life on Earth returns to normal. The Yankees hadn’t won at the Trop in 9 tries. David Phelps got the win versus David Price. Mark Teixeira blamed a “vitamin B” deficiency for past Yankee ails at this stadium-like, one time tractor-pull arena, ball park. No one is really sure what he meant by that but it seemed funny at the time.
- September 28, 2011 – Rays defeat Yankees 8-7, game 162. This was a Yankees’ defeat that felt kind of like a Yankees victory. The Yankees had clinched the AL East title, and Girardi told the press specifically that he wouldn’t be pitching anyone with talent, speed, or deception. Nevertheless, the Yankees cruised to a 7-0 lead until an Evan Longoria home run cut the deficit to one followed by a Dan Johnson home run to tie. The Rays finally won in the 12th inning. So, where’s the kinda-Yankee-victory? That Rays’ victory came during arguably the most famous 129 minutes in baseball history, and shut the Red Sox out of the playoffs for what would be the second of three seasons.
(July 3, 2012 - Source: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images North America).