Sometimes, Joe Maddon wishes he wasn’t so farsighted.
All season long as Tampa Bay, New York and Boston slugged it out in the American League East, the Rays’ manager said it would probably come down to the final day of the season.
And now it has.
Matt Joyce hit a two-run triple and eight pitchers combined on a shutout as Tampa Bay beat the Kansas City Royals 4-0 Saturday night at Kansas City, Mo., ensuring that the A.L. East race won’t be decided until Sunday today.
“I didn’t necessarily want it to be that,” Maddon said. “I’d prefer having the division won. But that’s how it’s going. We’ll see what happens.”
After the Yankees split a day-night doubleheader in Boston in which both games went 10 innings, winning 6-5 in the opener before losing 7-6 in the nightcap, Tampa Bay and New York ended the day tied for first place at 95-66. Both teams already clinched playoff spots.
At stake, however, is more than just the division title. The winner gets home-field advantage throughout the A.L. playoffs.
The Rays can secure that today with a win or a Yankees loss.
“I want to throw at home. Hands down, for sure,” said Rays ace David Price, who could start Game 1 on Wednesday. “We all do. We want to win the A.L. East and have home-field advantage.”
If the Rays and Yankees finish the regular season in a tie, Tampa Bay is the division winner because it won the head-to-head season series 10-8. The Yankees would get the wild card.
If the Rays win their second A.L. East title since 2008, they will start the best-of-5 division series at home Wednesday against Texas. If the Yankees win the division, the Rays will travel to Minnesota and play the A.L. Central champion Twins beginning Wednesday.
In the Yankees’ second-game loss Saturday, Eric Patterson singled home the winning run in the 10th for host Boston. Bill Hall led off the 10th with a double against Ivan Nova (1-2) and later scored on Patterson’s hit to center.
In the first game, Brett Gardner raced home on an error by second baseman Hall in the 10th as the Yankees won.