Derek Jeter’s 2014 season has been one giant farewell tour. Jeter, a 20-year veteran and a slam-dunk Hall of Famer, has been greeted with gifts and standing ovations as a visiting player at nearly every ballpark in which he’s played this season. That includes Tropicana Field, home of the division rival Rays.
The Rays lost 3-2 to the Yankees on Saturday night, thanks to Derek Jeter’s ninth-inning, tie-breaking RBI single. Rays manager Joe Maddon wasn’t thrilled at the amount of applause that Jeter received on his team’s home turf. Via MLB.com’s Bill Chastain and David Adler:
“It’s great, it’s great that it’s sold out, I understand that people like Derek Jeter — but you’ve got to come out and root for the Rays, too, you understand?” the Rays manager said after the game. “I mean, I totally appreciate what’s going on, but I’m not gonna sit here and defend all of that noise in the Yankees’ favor in our ballpark. I’m not gonna defend that. So if you’re gonna come out, root for the Rays. We’d appreciate that.”
Jeter added that the contest felt “almost like a home game”. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said, “I’m not so sure I’ve heard his name chanted that loud at an opposing stadium this year.”
The Yankees secured a series win with a 4-2 victory over the Rays on Sunday afternoon. The 63-59 Yankees sit seven games behind the first-place Orioles, while the 61-63 Rays are 10 games out of first place.
With a 6-1 win over the Twins in Sunday’s season finale, the Royals clinched the best record in the American League, which nets them home field advantage in the ALDS and ALCS. The Royals stand at 95-67 while the Blue Jays, who lost on Sunday, finish at 93-69.
95-67 is the Royals’ best record since finishing 97-65 in 1980, when they lost the World Series to the Phillies. Their division title is their first since 1985.
In the ALDS, which starts on Thursday, the Royals will host the winner of the AL Wild Card game between the Astros and Yankees. They are looking to avenge last year’s World Series loss, in seven games, to the Giants. The Blue Jays will host the Rangers in the other ALDS series.
Both the Astros’ and the Yankees’ fates were decided before their own games had completed on Sunday. The Rangers defeated the Angels, which clinched a Wild Card spot for the Astros. Then the Astros dropped Sunday’s season finale to the Diamondbacks, which clinched the first AL Wild Card slot for the Yankees. The Yankees are on their way to a loss against the Orioles as of this writing, but that will not affect anything now.
The Astros were in a 3-3 tie with the Diamondbacks in the seventh inning, but reliever Chad Qualls served up a two-run home run to Paul Goldschmidt. That would prove to be the deciding factor in a 5-3 loss.
The Yankees are losing 7-4 to the Orioles behind a subpar start by Michael Pineda and a shaky performance by the bullpen.
The MLB postseason opens up with the Yankees hosting the Astros on Tuesday in the AL Wild Card game. The winner moves on to face the Royals in Kansas City in the ALDS.