With New York quickly falling behind the Rays, the fans at Yankee Stadium were left with getting worked up over whether they would get their Mariano Rivera bobblehead dolls.
The Yankees wasted several opportunities against the wild Matt Moore in a 7-0 loss to Tampa Bay on Tuesday night that pushed them to the brink of missing out on the postseason for the second time in 19 years.
"This is not a good feeling," manager Joe Girardi said. "It hurts."
Tampa Bay roughed up Hiroki Kuroda (11-13) in tightening its grip on an AL wild-card spot with its fifth straight win. Matt Joyce had a leadoff homer as the Rays jumped ahead 3-0 in the first and David DeJesus had two RBI doubles.
The Yankees trail the Indians, who won 5-4, by five games — and also are behind the Rangers and Royals. The Yankees would be eliminated Wednesday if Cleveland wins or they lose.
Tampa Bay has a one-game lead over Cleveland for the top wild card with five to play. Texas beat Houston 3-2. Kansas City played later.
After the Rays went up 3-0, the biggest concern for the eerily quiet late-season crowd of 43,407 was if the Rivera bobblehead dolls would arrive before the end of the game. The figurines were delayed by train and truck trouble in a cross-country journey, and the Yankees were forced to give out vouchers to the first 18,000 fans entitled to one of the promotional gifts in tribute to the retiring career saves leader.
When it was learned the collectibles were going to be late, the Yankees delayed the opening of the gates for 30 minutes so the vouchers could be printed.
Alas, the bobbleheads arrived in the third inning.
The Yankees' bats didn't.
Ichiro Suzuki got New York's first hit in the bottom of third and Alex Rodriguez and Alfonso Soriano walked to load the bases but Mark Reynolds popped out to right field and Eduardo Nunez grounded into a fielder's choice.
The Yankees were 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position overall.
"We all know the situation, but you can't win ballgames when you can't put runs on the board," said Vernon Wells, who was 0 for 4. "You give their pitcher credit but we had opportunities and didn't come through."
Long lines snaked through the main concourse as fans waited up to several innings to get their gift.
Moore (16-4) gave up only three hits but threw three wild pitches to up his AL-leading total to 16 and walked six. Jamey Wright and Jake Odorizzi, who earned his first career save with three innings, finished the four-hitter that ensured New York could not pass the Rays in the standings.
"There's a lot of bend but not break with him, he's kind of like a prevent defense," Rays manager Joe Maddon said making a football reference. "But what you saw today happens. He will be wild, walk some people but not give up hits and that's the equalizer there, the fact that they don't necessarily beat him up with base hits."
The defeat also gave the Yankees 75 losses for the first time since they lost 86 games in 1992. New York last missed the playoffs in 2008, Girardi's first year as manager.
The Rays got right to work against Kuroda (11-13), tagging him for three more first-inning runs.
Maddon put Joyce in the top spot with hopes of getting him going. In a 3-for-41 slump coming in, Joyce connected on a 1-1 pitch for the Rays seventh leadoff homer of the season. Wil Myers followed with a single and DeJesus drove him in with a double to right field. Evan Longoria's sacrifice fly capped the inning.
Kuroda has yielded 23 of his 77 runs this season in the first inning.
Kuroda settled down after the first and held Tampa Bay hitless until the sixth, when James Loney doubled with the bases loaded for two runs.
Kuroda extended his winless skid to eight starts, matching a career worst first done in 2008 with the Dodgers. The 38-year-old right-hander was having one of his best seasons until he was hit hard Aug. 17 at Boston. This time, he allowed five runs and five hits in 5 2-3 innings.
"I'm really disappointed I'm not contributing to the team," Kuroda said through a translator.
NOTES: Rays SS Yunel Escobar left with a sore left ankle and C Jose Lobaton with a bruised right elbow. Both are day to day. ... Yankees RHP Phil Hughes will take LHP CC Sabathia's spot in the Yankees' rotation on Wednesday. Sabathia sustained a Grade 2 strain in his left hamstring in his start Friday, and was shut down for the last week of season Monday. ... Maddon had no report on OF Desmond Jennings (tight left hamstring). Jennings played catch before the game but did not run. ... The bases had plates on the sides with "Mariano Rivera" and "42."