Yankees starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery reacts on the mound during...

Yankees starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery reacts on the mound during the third inning of an MLB game at Yankee Stadium on Saturday. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

With a chance to clinch a playoff spot with a win, the Yankees didn’t even come close Saturday in a 12-2 loss to the Rays before an understandably surly crowd of 41,648 at Yankee Stadium.

Jordan Montgomery was booed off the mound after allowing seven runs in 2 2⁄3 innings in his worst 2021 outing. Brandon Lowe hit two three-run homers off Montgomery and three in all, driving in seven runs.

Montgomery allowed seven runs before picking up his eighth out and before Yankees No. 9 hitter Andrew Velazquez came to bat for the first time. The Rays hit five home runs, as Mike Zunino and Austin Meadows also went deep. The Yankees were outhit 19-4.

"Just a bad day for us," manager Aaron Boone said. "We’ve got to get over it quickly."

The Yankees (91-70) still had a chance to clinch a wild card spot on Saturday if Toronto and Seattle both lost. But the Blue Jays (90-71) ended that possibility in the early evening with a 10-1 victory over the Orioles and Seattle (90-71) came back to beat the Angels, 6-4, and remain tied with Toronto.

With a chance to either tie the Yankees atop the wild-card race or fall back into a tie with Toronto and (eventually) Seattle, the Red Sox (91-70) outscored the Nationals 4-2 in the ninth inning for a 5-3 win in the early evening.

So four teams remain alive for the two spots, and if the Yankees and Red Sox lose Sunday and the Blue Jays and Mariners win, they will finish in a four-way tie.

The Yankees control their destiny on Sunday, as a win over Tampa Bay will get them into the playoffs. It’s not a must-win situation. Even if they lose Sunday, the Yankees are assured of at least a wild-card tiebreaker game on Monday if a regular-season Game 163 is needed to settle one or both AL wild-card spots.

The Yankees said Jameson Taillon, who left his last start after 2 1⁄3 innings with a recurrence of an ankle issue — he has a partially torn tendon — will start against the Rays on Sunday.

The one good thing about getting blown out was that Boone got to rest his high-leverage relievers. In the event that Taillon can’t pitch deep into the game, Boone can turn to Luis Severino, Jonathan Loaisiga, Aroldis Chapman and the rest of his "A’’ relievers early and often, as none of them pitched on Saturday.

The Rays will start former Mets righthander Michael Wacha, who has a 5.26 ERA overall this season but is 1-0, 2.16 in four appearances (two starts) against the Yankees in 2021.

"We’ll look at it as a really important game," Boone said. "We’ve got to go take it. I don’t know [if it is an] absolute must-win. The last one’s the absolute must-win. Tomorrow we’ve got to come out, play well and take it and punch our ticket. That’s how we’ve got to look at it."

The Yankees fell behind 3-0 five batters into Saturday’s game on Lowe’s first three-run homer, a 349-foot line drive that just cleared the rightfield wall.

Anthony Rizzo hit a 428-foot solo homer into the second deck in rightfield in the bottom of the first, but Lowe lined a 344-foot three-run homer just over the rightfield wall in the third. Montgomery had allowed two homers to lefthanded hitters all season.

Mike Zunino followed with a blast to leftfield for his 33rd homer to give the AL East champion Rays a 7-1 lead as boos rained down on Montgomery.

Montgomery (6-7, 3.83 ERA) has been a dependable starter, but not on Saturday.

"Nobody’s perfect," he said. "They’re bound to happen after 30 starts. Just sucks. Wanted to give our guys a better outing."

Lowe hit a 400-foot solo shot to right-center off Michael King in the seventh to make it 9-2. He has 39 home runs and 99 RBIs. Austin Meadows added a three-run homer off Joely Rodriguez in the seventh, giving him 27 homers and 106 RBIs.

The ornery crowd really let Gleyber Torres have it in the seventh after he jogged to first after striking out on a pitch that got past Zunino. Torres was thrown out at first to end the inning.

Boone said Torres "feels terrible" about not hustling.

The Rays, the AL’s No. 1 seed, who have nothing to play for except to prevent the Yankees from clinching, earned their 100th win and improved to 11-7 against their heated rivals.

"We got embarrassed today," Brett Gardner said. "It’s obviously not a good feeling. And, obviously, one of our biggest rivals and a really good team over there. But a team that — if we’re going to make the playoffs and ultimately get to where we want to go — a team that we’re going to have to beat and go through. So I’m just disappointed in the way we played today, and hopefully tomorrow we’ll be better."

More Yankees headlines


FOR OUR BEST OFFER ONLY 25¢ for 5 months

Unlimited Digital Access.

cancel anytime.