By MIKE FITZPATRICK
AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Brandon Lowe hit three home runs and the Tampa Bay Rays rolled to a 12-2 blowout of the Yankees on Saturday that prevented New York from clinching a playoff spot.
With a chance to pitch his team into the postseason, Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery instead was rocked for a career-worst seven earned runs in 2 2/3 innings. He gave up a pair of early three-run homers to Lowe, who also went deep in the seventh against Michael King.
Even with the embarrassing defeat before a booing Yankee Stadium crowd of 41,648, New York could still punch its postseason ticket Saturday with losses by Toronto and Seattle later in the day.
Or, a victory in the regular-season finale Sunday against the Rays would guarantee the Yankees an AL wild card.
But after dropping the first two games of this series, the Yankees no longer control their own destiny to host the wild-card game. They now need a Boston loss to do so.
New York began the day with a one-game lead over the Red Sox for the league’s top wild card. Boston was playing at Washington.
Lowe batted in the eighth with an opportunity to match the major league record of four home runs in a game. He evaded a 93 mph fastball from Joely Rodriguez that was way inside, then grounded out to first base.
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