Brandon Lowe provided the Rays with three homers and seven RBI — 7% of his total RBI output on the season — yesterday in the Bronx. (Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Rays)

After demolishing the mighty Yankees on Saturday, 12-2 — thus winning their 100th game of the season — the Tampa Bay Rays have a chance to sweep the Bronx Bummers on Sunday. They also could have a major impact on the Wildcard race.

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The Yankees enter play tied with the Red Sox for the top Wildcard spot, with Toronto and Seattle sitting one game back. With a win, New York will qualify for a playoff spot. Yet, there’s still a chance of a four-way tie if Seattle and Toronto win and Boston and the Yankees lose.

The Rays enter play 100-61 on the season, 39-games above .500, and with an 11-7 record against the Yankees in 2021.

Tampa Bay hit four home runs on Saturday; three were provided by Brandon Lowe, while the other was hit by Mike Zunino.

The Rays have shortened the work of the starting rotation with the postseason looming. That included Saturday’s starter.

Shane Baz gave up one run on a hit and two walks across 2.2 innings. He struck out four. With Tampa Bay already having the best record in the American League locked up, Kevin Cash elected to give Baz some extra rest ahead of the playoffs — a sign that right-hander will play a big part in Tampa Bay’s postseason pitching plans. Baz threw 51 pitches (28 strikes, 55% strike rate) before exiting, and he wrapped up the regular season with a 2.03 ERA and a 4.06 FIP, with a 6.00 K/BB through 13.1 frames.

Meanwhile, Luis Patiño struck out three batters across two perfect frames in relief. Patiño took over to begin the fifth inning and fired 20 of 29 pitches for strikes (69% strike rate). He wrapped up the regular season with a 4.31 ERA and a 4.51 FIP, with a 2.55 K/BB through 77.1 innings. The 21-year-old will likely fill a multi-inning role for the Rays in the playoffs.

Relievers Collin McHugh, J.T. Chargois, and David Robertson have yet to pitch in this series, so expect them to take the mound at some point today.

THE NEW WHAT NEXT

Michael Wacha (3-5, 5.26 ERA) will get the start on Sunday, pitching opposite of Jameson Taillon (8-6, 4.40 ERA).

Michael Wacha pitched five hitless and scoreless innings against the Astros on Tuesday. He allowed two free passes while striking out six. Even though Wacha sat at just 61 pitches (41 strikes, 67% strike rate) through five frames, although manager Kevin Cash chose to pull him and go to the ‘pen. It was a superb effort by the right-hander, as he notched his first scoreless outing since late July. Wacha has allowed two or fewer earned runs in five of his past six outings, posting a 3.38 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, and a 5.67 K/BB across 29.1 innings over that stretch.

Jameson Taillon has been hampered by an ankle injury. Taillon went 2.1 innings on September 28, allowing a run across 2.1 innings. In two starts against Tampa Bay this season, Taillon is 0-2 with a 6.52 ERA after surrendering seven runs over 9.2 innings.

You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup is below.

RAYS 10/3/21 STARTING LINEUP

  1. Lowe 2B
  2. Arozarena RF
  3. Franco SS
  4. Cruz DH
  5. Meadows LF
  6. Choi 1B
  7. Zunino C
  8. Wendle 3B
  9. Kiermaier CF
  10. Wacha RHP

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