The Rays are the American League East champions.
And they didn’t have to rely on the Red Sox to beat the Yankees, as they took a 3-2 win in 12 innings over the Royals on Sunday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium with 20,936 watching.
By winning, the Rays (96-66) finished the season with the best record in the American League, which earned them home-field advantage throughout the playoffs in addition to the division title.
Pinch-hitter Rocco Baldelli singled with one out in the 12th and stole second base. With two outs, Kelly Shoppach hit a shot to third off Royals right-hander Greg Holland that Wilson Betemit booted to allow Baldelli to race home with the go-ahead run.
Rafael Soriano pitched a scoreless 12th to preserve the win and earn his 45th save of the season.
“To win in extra innings on the road, I talk about it all the time,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s a great measure of your team, the character of your group — under these circumstances, that really demonstrates it.
“We knew the Yankees had not won. The win didn’t really mean a whole lot at that point, but it meant a whole lot to us, to win it and do it this way.”
The Rays trailed for most of the game before rallying for a pair in the ninth, which coincided with the Red Sox finishing off the Yankees, 8-4, at Fenway Park. At 4:47 p.m. ET, the Rays knew they were champions, but not until one hour and two minutes passed did they become champions in the manner they wanted to win their second AL East title in three years.