Benches clear twice as Rays roll past Yankees 7-4: ‘It’s a last-place team’

Things got heated late on Sunday afternoon in St. Petersburg.

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.

“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 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 both second and third, he started yelling at Abreu on the mound. That sparked the second clearing.

Arozarena was one of four Rays players to be hit by a pitch in Sunday’s game. Arozarena was hit twice by the Yankees in their May matchup, too, including once by Abreu.

“I think it was on purpose,” Arozarena said through a translator, 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.

Both benches and bullpens cleared twice in the eighth inning on Sunday afternoon at Tropicana Field after Randy Arozarena was hit by a pitch

Both benches and bullpens cleared twice in the eighth inning on Sunday afternoon at Tropicana Field after Randy Arozarena was hit by a pitch. (Mike Carlson/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

The game was just the latest example of the Yankees’ struggling season. The loss dropped the Yankees to 62-68 on the season, which marked their lowest point under .500. The team hasn’t finished with a losing record in 30 seasons, and hasn’t missed the playoffs since 2016. The Yankees haven’t won a series in their last nine outings. They sit in last in the AL East, and are a full 11 games out of the final Wild Card spot in the American League.

The Rays, on the other hand, are just two games back from the AL East-leading Baltimore Orioles and are 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 RBI single in the sixth, and Lowe followed suit with a two RBI single of his own — which put the Rays up 6-4 at the time. Lowe then hit an RBI double in the eighth to score Arozarena, which got them to the 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 on Friday. Though tempers flared on Monday, the Yankees and Rays will almost certainly have to wait until next season to resolve their issues.