The Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees are squaring off against one another in the American League Division Series with the hopes of advancing in the playoffs.
Earlier in the season, the teams' pitchers started throwing at each other’s batters.
Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier said to Fox Sports, “they don’t like us, we don’t like them and it’s going to continue to stay that way.”
In an incident on Sept. 1 between Yankees pitcher Aroldis Chapman and Tampa Bay third baseman Mike Brosseau, New York's closer threw a 101 mph fastball past the head of Brosseau. Benches cleared, and at the end of the game, Rays manager Kevin Cash said, according to USA Today, “I got a whole damn stable full of guys that throw 98 mph. Period."
Throughout the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)-altered regular season, the Yankees and Tampa Bay faced off 10 times. New York lost eight of those games.
The Yankees also had a stretch where they dropped 15 out of 20 games, eventually securing the fifth seed in the playoffs, whereas the Rays grabbed the first seed.
Both teams have the ability to make a statement this year. New York has the chance to win its 28th World Series title, and Tampa Bay can earn its first.
This season, the Yankees have been bitten by the injury bug, with outfielders like Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, along with second baseman DJ LeMahieu, sitting out games.
The Rays came into this series with a better regular-season record and earned run average, as they sported a 3.56 mark, compared to New York's 4.35.
For the Yankees, Game One proved to be a success. The bats came alive with performances from outfielder Aaron Hicks, who had three hits in four at-bats with two runs batted in, and Stanton, who hit a grand slam in the ninth inning off Tampa Bay pitcher John Curtiss. New York won 9-3.
Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole went six innings with eight strikeouts and gave up three runs, while the Rays' Blake Snell went five innings with four strikeouts, giving up four runs.