Published January 13, 2015
The Tampa Bay Rays shoot for a sixth straight win on Wednesday and they try to put the final nail in the New York Yankees' coffin in the second meeting of a three-game set at Yankee Stadium.
Tampa put the Yanks on the brink of elimination on Tuesday, as Matt Moore fired five scoreless innings, David DeJesus and James Loney each knocked in two runs, and the Rays moved one step closer to sewing up a playoff berth in a 7-0 victory.
Matt Joyce added a solo home run and Evan Longoria went 2-for-4 with an RBI to help the Rays to a fifth straight win, which reduced their magic number for earning a playoff spot to four.
Tampa Bay remained one game ahead of Cleveland for the AL's top wild card.
Moore (16-4) worked around six walks and three wild pitches to hold down a Yankee lineup which finished 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position in a setback that all but ended the Bronx Bombers' postseason hopes.
"You cannot be more effectively wild than he was tonight," Rays manager Joe Maddon said of Moore.
New York now trails the Indians, who rallied to defeat the White Sox Tuesday, by five games with five to play for the second wild card.
"This is not a good feeling,"Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of his team's playoff hopes.
Hiroki Kuroda (11-13) was saddled with the defeat, his sixth straight losing decision, after allowing five runs in 5 2/3 innings.
Tampa will rely on the AL's reigning Cy Young Award winner, David Price, who is 0-3 over his last five starts. Price did not get a decision on Friday against Baltimore, as he allowed two runs and nine hits in five innings of a 5-4 win.
The left-hander is 1-1 with a 3.21 ERA in two starts against the Yankees this year - both at home. He's 4-1 with a 3.79 ERA in his last six outings in the Bronx.
"What are we going to do, lose the next six games?" Price said before Tuesday's game. "No, I hope not. I think everybody in here is set on us going to the playoffs. We've put ourselves in a position to control our own destiny."
New York, meanwhile, will counter with right-hander Phil Hughes, who will likely close the book on a miserable season that has seen him go 4-13 with a 5.07 ERA. Over his last 12 starts Hughes is 0-6 with a 5.33 ERA.
Hughes is starting on Wednesday in place of lefty CC Sabathia, who was shut down earlier this week after injuring his hamstring in his last start.
As bad as Hughes has been, New York has won both of his starts versus the Rays this season.
Tampa has taken 10 of its 17 matchups with the Yankees this season.