Yankees and Rays players clear the benches.
Screenshot from Twitter

Tensions Flare Between Yankees and Rays On and Off the Field

The Yankees and Rays may be in two different positions this season, but that didn't stop them from going at it.

The AL East this season has been the best MLB division we've seen in recent memory, and with high stakes comes high drama.

This weekend, the Yankees and Rays wrote another chapter of the division's contentious history as benches cleared after Tampa's Randy Arozarena was hit by a pitch by Albert Abreu. The Rays' Brandon Lowe was firing shots after the game, keeping the flame alive with comments in the video below from an interview with Bally Sports Rays sideline reporter Tricia Whitaker.

While scathing, Lowe's words are almost entirely objective truths.

The Yankees are far from playoff contention, six games below .500 and 17 behind the Rays as they sit in last place in the AL East. The stakes in each game truly are higher for the Rays; and as Lowe stated, getting involved in skirmishes with last-place teams is probably "not worth [their] time." It's debatable whether the Yankees are intentionally trying to instigate conflict to mess with the Rays, but what isn't up for debate is that the Yankees are 5-8 in the season series this year and have hit Rays batters 12 times in those 13 contests.

This is far from the first dust-up between these two teams, even in an off-the-field capacity. Back in 2020, after Aroldis Chapman threw some fastballs up in the zone against Rays hitters, Tampa manager Kevin Cash seemed to threaten the Yankees by stating that he had a "whole stable of guys who throw 98" — and when the Rays clinched the division, some players wore hats that said "98ers" and T-shirts that depicted a stable of horses.

It was a relatively unprovoked shot, considering nobody got hit and Chapman has absolutely no control; he easily could have just been missing the zone. But the Rays made good on all of the trash talk, eliminating the Yankees in the ALDS. The two teams won't meet in the postseason this year, but we'll see if Tampa can back up the talk again and play like the contenders they think they are.

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