September 27, 2008 / 1:22 PM / 11 years ago

Rays claim AL East title to cap turnaround

File photo shows Tampa Bay Rays batter Evan Longoria in Baltimore, Maryland September 24, 2008. REUTERS/Joe Giza

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Tampa Bay Rays have completed a stunning turnaround by winning the American League East title a year after finishing last in their division.

The Rays claimed the crown when the New York Yankees defeated the Boston Red Sox 19-8 late on Friday to end Boston’s hopes of catching Tampa Bay.

The Rays had lost to Detroit 6-4 earlier on Friday but the Yankees’ win gave Tampa Bay the title with two days remaining in the regular season.

“(It) would have been nice to have won it on the field,” Rays outfielder Cliff Floyd told reporters. “But any way you get in, you get in. You don’t back in with 96 wins. We’re here. Nobody wants to play us in the playoffs.”

Writing by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Sonia Oxley

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