Yankees’ ‘bad day’ denies clinched wild-card bid

With a chance to clinch a postseason berth, the New York Yankees were instead rocked 12-2 by the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday to push their playoff hopes to the regular season’s final day.

Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery allowed a career-worst seven earned runs in 2 2/3 innings, giving up a pair of three-run homers to Brandon Lowe, who also went deep in the seventh against Michael King.

“Just a bad day for us, and we’ve got to get over it quickly,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.

After the embarrassing defeat before a booing Yankee Stadium crowd of 41,648 and a 10-1 win by the Toronto Blue Jays over the Baltimore Orioles, New York will look ahead to Sunday, where a victory over Tampa Bay would guarantee the streaky Yankees an American League wild-card berth.

“We’ve got to win. It’s as simple as that,” veteran outfielder Brett Gardner said. “Here we are going into Game 162 not knowing what the future is.

“It’s not ideal. But it’s nice knowing that we still have a chance,” he added. “The way the season has gone, it kind of makes sense that it would come down to the very last day. Seems about right.”

Jameson Taillon, who aggravated an ankle injury in his last start Tuesday, is set to start Sunday after throwing a successful bullpen session Friday.

New York is assured at least a tiebreaker game Monday that could put the team in the playoffs for the fifth straight season. But after dropping the first two games of this series, the Yankees no longer control their destiny to host the wild-card game and need a Boston Red Sox loss to do so.

Tampa Bay (100-61) has already wrapped up home-field advantage throughout the AL playoffs. The Rays also became the first team with a bottom-five payroll to win 100 games since the 2002 Oakland Athletics, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Montgomery’s shortest outing this season marked an untimely end to a strong stretch.

The left-hander had permitted no more than one run in three straight starts and nine of his past 11, going 3-1 with a 2.26 ERA during that span. He was 1-0 with a 1.65 ERA and 22 strikeouts over 16 1/3 innings in his past three outings and had allowed three earned runs or fewer in 15 of his last 16 starts since June 20.

“Nobody’s perfect. They’re going to happen,” Montgomery said. “Just got to be better next time.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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