It is a good thing the Rays play the Yankees for a four-game series next week at Yankee Stadium.

After watching three exhilarating games between both teams at Tropicana Field this week, baseball can not have enough of both teams facing each other.

It may not be Yankees-Red Sox, but Yankees-Rays is anything but unwatchable. If anything, Yankees-Rays is better than watching that age-old rivalry.

When the Yankees and the Rays play each other, it is entertaining. It is rare both teams get outplayed when they play each other. Players find a way to step up, and both teams can come back to tie it after falling behind.

Count on good pitching when both teams play each other. That is a good thing. It makes the game watchable, and it reveals who comes out strong in a tight game.

These three games exemplified why this series should be appreciated.

On Monday night, it was about pitching. CC Sabathia and David Price engaged in a pitching duel for eight innings. Not surprisingly, both drew no-decisions. It came down to the bullpen, and that’s where the Rays beat the Yankees.

The Rays used their best relievers while Joe Girardi decided to use his middle relievers in extra innings. The results were not an accident. Reid Brignac hit a game-winning home run off Yankees reliever Sergio Mitre to give the Rays a 1-0 victory.

One wondered how the game would fare if Girardi used David Robertson or Joba Chamberlain in extra innings. It probably would keep the game scoreless, which is why Yankee fans questioned Girardi’s decision.

The Yankees manager explained he wanted to rest his best relievers after overusing them lately. From this writer’s perspective, that explanation was lame. This was a case of him trying to prove what a genius he is by showing faith in his obscure relievers.

On Tuesday night, it was a slugfest. Ivan Nova started for the Yankees and Matt Garza started for the Rays. Neither pitcher pitched well, and they did not last long. The Yankees scored six runs, but the Rays scored seven runs in the fifth inning to take a 7-6 lead. The Yankees came back to tie it at seven in the sixth inning on Robinson Cano’s home run.

That game ended in extra innings again. Jorge Posada hit a game-winning home run in the tenth inning, but the Rays could have tied it if Carl Crawford did not try to tag to third. Greg Golson threw the ball to Rodriguez, who tagged Crawford out to end the game.

On Wednesday night, it was about resilience.  The Yankees took a 1-0 lead, but the Rays responded with a two-run home run by Dan Johnson to take a 2-1 lead. The Yankees regained the lead on a two-run blast by Curtis Granderson, which made it a 3-2 game. The Rays received another two-run dinger by Johnson to retake the lead at 4-3.

In boxing terms, both teams traded blows. In the end, it was the Rays that won the battle and won the war for this series.

It could have been easy for the Rays to be deflated after Derek Jeter tricked the umpire about being hit by pitch, which set the stage for Granderson to hit his home run. Whoever thought that has no clue about that team. There are always guys who find a way to get some runs after falling behind. They have done it all year, so there is no reason to think it should change now.

It is not an accident that both teams played each other well.  The Rays are 8-6 over the Yankees this season, and prior to this weekend series, the Rays took a 6-5 series lead. Games could have went either way. The Yankees had their chances to take the series lead this year.

When one looks at this matchup, it seems like destiny that both teams will face each other in the American League Championship Series.

They are the top two teams in baseball with due respect for the Twins and the Rangers. Despite injuries and struggles, both teams keep winning. It is not surprising that both teams can’t create breathing room in the division between each other.

Both teams win almost every day. It says a lot about the talent and leadership. There is also something to be said about magic. Good things always seem to happen to them.

With the way both teams played each other all year, it would be a disappointment if they do not play each other in the second round.

The Yankees and the Rays feature drama that the Twins and the Rangers can not provide. Championship series should be about strong teams playing for a championship. It should not feature a team that got hot at the right time.

What is scary is both teams are capable of losing in the first round. The Yankees are going through injuries while the Rays do not have a deep starting rotation they used to enjoy. This could be problematic in a short series.

Here is another problem. For everyone anointing the Yankees and the Rays into the playoffs, the Red Sox showed they are not done just yet. They could crash in the postseason by going on a run that the Rockies are right now.

The Red Sox are six-and-a-half games back in the division and six games back in the Wild Card. Keep in mind the Red Sox have couple of meetings against the Yankees this month, so there is a good chance they could gain some games.

There is no question they received a boost after taking two of three against the Rays at Fenway last week.

It is going to be tough, but do not tell that to the Red Sox. They will not be fazed.

Next week’s Yankees-Rays matchup should be foreshadowing to who will win the division and who will fight out for the Wild Card. Whoever takes three of four will have an edge to win the American League East.

Expect four games to live up to the hype. After all, why should it change now?

The hope is this is not the final time the Rays face the Yankees this year. What our national pastime needs is another serving of both teams in October.

Somehow, baseball fans will not have a problem with it.

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