The Tampa Bay Rays beat the New York Yankees, 6-3, on Saturday afternoon in what has become quite the common refrain. For whatever reason, the Rays have absolutely owned the Yankees since the beginning of 2020. In fact, they had a two-game sweep over the Yankees the last time they faced them in 2019.
Add it up and the Rays have beaten the Yankees in seven straight series.
- Sept. 24-25, 2019: Two-game sweep
- Aug. 7-9, 2020: Rays take three of four
- Aug. 18-20, 2020: Three-game Rays' sweep
- Aug. 31-Sept. 2, 2020: Rays take two of three
- 2020 ALDS: Rays win in five games
- April 9-11, 2021: Rays take two of three
- April 16-17: Rays have won the first two games of a three-game series
That's seven series, including one in the playoffs, in which the Rays have gone 17-5 against the Yankees. For a baseball-related point of reference, that's a 162-game pace of 125 wins. Yes, the Rays vs. Yankees series has the Rays playing like a 125-37 ballclub.
What's even more peculiar this season is the Rays aren't really playing well against anyone else. If you removed the Yankees from the Rays' schedule, the Rays are 3-7 with a negative-29 run differential.
On the flip side, the Yankees were 31-19 when they didn't play the Rays last season and are 4-5 this season when they don't. Yes, they are struggling overall, but they have still been noticeably worse against the Rays.
Big picture, this is probably not much more than a coincidence. The Rays were the better team last season and everything so far in 2021 is a small sample. The Yankees had to face Rays' ace Tyler Glasnow Saturday and Sunday they'll probably win behind Gerrit Cole.
Still, it has started to snowball a bit and it's possible there's a collective feeling in that Yankees clubhouse of a giant weight on their chests. Meanwhile, the Rays have to enter every game against the Yankees with supreme confidence. In a highly mental game like baseball, that's absolutely an edge.