Tampa Bay Rays, from left, Sean Rodriguez, David Price, and Desmond Jennings spray champagne as they celebrate early Thursday after the Rays clinched the AL wild card with an 8-7 win over the New York Yankees.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays clinched the AL wild card with a stunning rally Wednesday night, overcoming a late seven-run deficit and then beating the New York Yankees 8-7 on Evan Longoria's home run in the 12th inning.
The Rays' win came four minutes after Boston blew a one-run lead in the ninth at Baltimore and lost 4-3, causing a roar at Tropicana Field.
The Red Sox, who held a nine-game lead over the Rays in early September, and Tampa Bay began the final day of the regular season tied for the wild card.
Longoria hit a three-run homer in the eighth that capped a six-run burst. Pinch-hitter Dan Johnson's two-out, two-strike solo homer in the ninth tied it for Tampa Bay.
Longoria won it with a one-out shot barely inside the left-field foul pole, finishing the comeback from a 7-0 margin.
Tampa Bay will open its best-of-five playoff matchup at Texas on Friday. The Yankees will host Detroit in Game 1 Friday night.
Longoria connected off Scott Proctor (0-3) to end it. Proctor was the Yankees' 11th pitcher of the game — they did not use all-time career saves leader Mariano Rivera, and Johnson hit his tying shot off Cory Wade.
The Yankees pulled their regulars throughout the game and finished with a lineup that looked more like a Triple-A team.
Moments before Tampa Bay won, it looked as if Boston would instead be going to the playoffs.
The Orioles were down to their last strike in the ninth before scoring twice off Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon.
The Rays, meanwhile, escaped a first-and-third, no-out jam in the 12th. Longoria made the key play, fielding a grounder at third and making a snap tag to catch the runner diving back to the back.
Mark Teixeira hit a grand slam off All-Star David Price and a solo homer as the Yankees built their big lead. The Rays sputtered against a parade of New York pitchers, until the eighth. Longoria homered off Luis Ayala to pull Tampa Bay within a run.
Teixeira's second-inning slam put the Yankees ahead 5-0. His solo shot made it 6-0 and came simultaneously as Dustin Pedroia went deep for Boston to give the Red Sox a 3-2 lead in their game. The Rays began cutting into their deficit during a rain delay in Baltimore.
A night after Matt Joyce's three-run homer gave Tampa Bay a 5-3 victory that kept the wild-card race tied, a crowd of 29,518 didn't have much to cheer until the eighth when the Rays loaded the bases with no outs against Boone Logan.
Ayala replaced Logan and walked pinch hitter Sam Fuld to force in one run, then hit Sean Rodriguez with a pitch to force in another. B.J. Upton's sacrifice fly trimmed Tampa Bay's deficit to 7-3 before Longoria connected.
Before the eighth, the Rays were limited to two hits — a pair of singles by Casey Kotchman — by a continuous stream of Yankees pitchers, beginning with a two-inning stint by rookie Dellin Betances.
George Kontos, Aaron Laffey, Phil Hughes, Raul Valdes, A.J. Burnett, Andrew Brackman, Logan, Ayala, Wade and Procter followed Betances, who made his first major league start.
Orioles 4, Red Sox 3: The Boston Red Sox completed their September collapse in horrific and historic fashion, falling out of the playoff chase by allowing two ninth-inning runs in a 4-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday night.
The Red Sox held a nine-game lead in the AL wild-card race after Sept. 3, but a 7-19 swoon left them tied with Tampa Bay entering the final day of the regular season.
Only minutes after this game ended, the Rays completed their comeback from a 7-0 deficit with an 8-7 win over the New York Yankees in 12 innings.
Even if Tampa Bay lost, the Red Sox faced the prospect of a quick turnaround following a long night at Camden Yards that included a rain delay of 1 hour, 26 minutes in the middle of the seventh inning.
When the rain came, Tampa Bay trailed 7-0. By the time play resumed, the Rays and Yankees were tied at 7 heading into the 10th inning.
The Orioles won the game in the ninth against Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon (4-1), who struck out the first two batters before giving up a double to Chris Davis. Nolan Reimold followed with a double to score pinch-runner Kyle Hudson, and Robert Andino completed the comeback with a single to left that Carl Crawford couldn't glove.
Boston became the first team to miss the postseason after leading by as many as nine games for a playoff spot entering September, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Jim Johnson (6-5) worked the ninth for Baltimore.
Dustin Pedroia homered for the Red Sox, who went through the entire month of September without winning consecutive games.
Pitching on three days' rest, Jon Lester limited the last-place Orioles to two runs and four hits over six gritty innings. But it wasn't enough to prevent the Red Sox from absorbing one final blow.
Boston had several chances to pad a 3-2 lead it took in the fifth inning but was never able to complete the task.
After Pedroia hit a solo homer off Alfredo Simon in the fifth, the Orioles got the potential tying run to third base in the bottom half and in the sixth before Lester worked out of trouble.
In the seventh, Boston's David Ortiz was thrown out trying to stretch a single, and with two outs rookie catcher Ryan Lavanway bounced into a fielder's choice. Lavanway, who homered twice in an 8-7 win Tuesday, went 0 for 5 and stranded nine runners.
The Red Sox blew another chance to increase the lead in the eighth when Marco Scutaro took off from first base on a double by Crawford. But Scutaro stutter-stepped before getting to third and was out at the plate.
In the ninth, Lavanway grounded into a double play with one out and the bases loaded. It was the third time he came to the plate following an intentional walk to Adrian Gonzalez.
The Red Sox went up 1-0 in the third when Mike Aviles walked, took second on a single by Jacoby Ellsbury and scored on a single by Pedroia. Ellsbury's single extended his hitting streak against Baltimore to 36 games, dating to April 2009.
J.J. Hardy hit a two-run homer in the bottom half, only minutes after the scoreboard showed the Yankees increasing their lead over Tampa Bay to 5-0. Hardy's 30th homer followed a leadoff walk to Davis.
Boston pulled even in the fourth when Scutaro doubled, advanced on a groundout and scored on a balk.