Tampa Bay and Boston both won on Tuesday night to stay knotted atop the American League's Wild Card race, and the Rays will send staff ace David Price -- the top overall selection in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft -- to the mound Wednesday in search of the playoffs.
"That's kind of the way you think about it when you're a little kid," said Price of his big moment. "It's the bottom of the ninth, two outs, bases loaded, up by one run, stuff like that. It's kind of how you picture it whenever you're a little kid. And I might have that opportunity tomorrow."
The Yankees, meanwhile, find themselves in the odd position of helping to decide the fate of one of their postseason competitors. New York has already locked up the division and home-field advantage up to the World Series, and now it stands in between Tampa Bay and its destiny.
"Our guys have worked really hard to get to this spot," said manager Joe Girardi. "Obviously, this is a time you look forward to -- the postseason -- and our guys are enjoying it."
Dellin Betances, one of the Yankees' top pitching prospects, will make his first MLB start. Betances went 4-9 with a 3.70 ERA in 25 MiLB starts, 21 at Double-A, four at Triple-A. He walked four and hit a batter in two-thirds of an inning in his Yankees debut.
The drama -- and the pressure -- rest squarely on Tampa Bay's side of the field, and the Rays are trying to make the playoffs for the third time in five seasons.
Tampa Bay has wiped out a nine-game deficit in the Wild Card race since Sept. 4, and it knows it will have home-field advantage if it comes to a tiebreaker on Thursday. The Rays don't want it to come to that, though, and would prefer to wrap everything up Wednesday.
"Just let it flow," said Price about his willingness to let his adrenaline work for him Wednesday. "I feel like for the most part, I can control it, so I'll just use it to my advantage and take it from there."
Yankees: Cano up, Teixeira down in batting order
The Yankees switched up their lineup on Tuesday, slotting Robinson Cano at No. 3 and dropping Mark Teixeira to No. 5 for the first time all season. New York hoped the move would ignite its lineup against right-handed pitching, and may take that approach into the playoffs.
Cano, who went 0-for-4 on Tuesday, has notched at least one extra-base hit in 10 of his last 15 games. Cano is second in the Majors in extra-base hits (81), and with one game left, he trails teammate Curtis Granderson (119) by one for the league lead in RBIs.
"That's not in my mind," said the All-Star second baseman. "I don't really look for it. If it happens, perfect. If not, I'm happy I had a good year and helped the team win the division."
Rays: Joyce heats up at right time
Right fielder Matt Joyce picked a great time to bust out of a mini-slump for the Rays. Tampa Bay slotted Joyce as the cleanup hitter on Tuesday night, and he used a three-run blast in the seventh inning to push the Rays ahead and break a 17-game homerless drought.
Joyce, an All-Star this season, has seen a pronounced split in his statistics. The 27-year-old batted .290 with 12 home runs in 81 games before the All-Star break, and he's hit .263 with seven homers in 59 games since the intermission. Joyce has four homers in his last 44 games.
Tampa Bay has won a league-best 29 straight games when scoring at least five runs ... The Rays are 16-10 this month, notching the team's first winning record in September. ... New York has won the AL East in 12 of the last 16 seasons, and has made the playoffs 16 times in 17 years. ... The Yanks had to play 33 games in the last 32 days of the regular season, and are 19-13 in that stretch going into Wednesday's finale.