Next up in the Rays' season-ending gauntlet? A trip to Yankee Stadium to take on a division rival and another playoff contender.
The Yankees, still fighting for their playoff lives in their last home series of the year, will host the Rays for a three-game series beginning Tuesday. The Rays finished off a four-game sweep of the Orioles on Monday at Tropicana Field, while the Yanks were off.
The Yankees have won three of their past five after taking a series from the Giants over the weekend. Following a 5-4 win over the Orioles on Monday afternoon, the Rays moved to 6-2 so far in a stretch of 11 consecutive games against teams currently chasing a postseason berth (2-2 against Texas and 4-0 against Baltimore.
The Red Sox have clinched the American League East, but the Rays hold the top Wild Card spot over the Indians by a game. The Yankees fell four games back of a Wild Card spot after Sunday's loss.
That makes this series a must-win for the Bronx Bombers, who will send Hiroki Kuroda to the mound on Tuesday. Kuroda is looking to even his season record at 12-12, though he owns a formidable 3.17 ERA on the year.
Kuroda hasn't won since Aug. 12 against the Angels, and he has dropped each of his past two decisions. On Thursday vs. the Blue Jays, he gave up three runs over six innings.
"It was gutsy; he was in trouble every inning," manager Joe Girardi said of Kuroda's performance. "He did a really good job of minimizing the damage."
The Rays will turn to Matt Moore on Tuesday. Moore is 15-4 with a 3.34 ERA, with two of his wins coming against the Yankees in four starts earlier this season.
"Beating them is going to worsen their chances of getting in, so we can kill a couple birds with that one stone," Moore said of the upcoming pivotal series.
Rays: Jennings day to day with hamstring injury
While Evan Longoria returned to the lineup for Monday's series sweep over the Orioles, Desmond Jennings was absent with a tight left hamstring.
Jennings left Sunday's contest in the sixth inning with the injury, but it's not expected to keep the speedy outfielder away for long.
"We don't think it's anything awful," manager Joe Maddon said. "I don't know exactly when we'll get him back out, but again, tomorrow we'll re-evaluate to see where he's at. And we'll see."
Sam Fuld started in his place and went hitless in two at-bats.
Yankees: Sabathia done for season
CC Sabathia will miss the rest of the season with a Grade 2 strain of his left hamstring.
The injury is expected to take eight weeks to recover and thus signals the end of Sabathia's frustrating season.
The 33-year-old was in line to start one of the final two games of his club's three-game series with the Rays after pitching on Friday against the Giants.
Sabathia will finish the year 14-13 with a career-high 4.78 ERA and 1.37 WHIP in 32 starts.
• The Yankees will continue to wear "Mariano Rivera Final Season" patches on their jerseys and caps during this series, their last at home this year.
• The Rays have had 10 different pitchers start games this season, their most in one season since 2006, when 12 different pitchers started games. Since 2008, Tampa Bay has used only 20 starting pitchers -- three fewer than any other team in baseball (Giants, 23).
Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.