Things got heated late Sunday afternoon in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Yet the Tampa Bay Rays, despite the benches clearing twice in their 7-4 win over the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field, aren’t taking it too personally.
“Looking at it in a different view, it’s a last-place team,” said Brandon Lowe, who hit a home run and had four RBI in the win, via The Associated Press.
“We don’t need to worry about it. We need to focus on what we need to do down the stretch.”
The benches and bullpens cleared twice in the eighth inning, though no punches were thrown, and things remained relatively calm, considering the circumstances. The incident erupted after Tampa Bay outfielder Randy Arozarena was hit by a pitch from Albert Abreu. Several players had to be held back, though coaches and officials eventually cleared the field, and play resumed.
Then, after Arozarena stole second and third, he started yelling at Abreu on the mound. That sparked the second clearing.
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Arozarena was one of four Rays players hit by a pitch Sunday. He was also hit twice by the Yankees in their May matchup, including once by Abreu.
"I think it was on purpose," Arozarena said through an interpreter, via The Associated Press. "If you look back at [the] previous series, he's hit me before. I've been hit in previous series before that. They hurt Yandy [Díaz] the other day, they hit [Isaac] Paredes in the head, so I think it probably was an issue for them."
Abreu denied that he hit Arozarena on purpose.
The game was the latest example of the Yankees’ struggling season. The loss dropped them to 62-68, their lowest point under .500 this year. The team hasn’t finished with a losing record in 30 seasons and hasn’t missed the playoffs since 2016. But the Yankees haven’t won a series in their past nine outings. They sit last in the AL East and 11 games out of the final wild-card spot in the American League.
The Rays are two games back from the AL East-leading Baltimore Orioles and six games up in the AL wild-card race. Lowe hit a home run in the first inning, which followed an Arozarena run. Harold Ramírez hit a two-run single in the sixth, and Lowe followed with a two-run single, which put the Rays up 6-4. Lowe then hit an RBI double in the eighth to score Arozarena, which got Tampa Bay a three-run win.
The Rays will play two games against the Miami Marlins before heading to Cleveland for a three-game series against the Guardians beginning Friday. Although tempers flared, the Yankees and Rays will almost certainly have to wait until next season to resolve their issues.