No team that began the season 0-6 has ever gone on to win 90 games, no team in the history of major league baseball has ever comeback from a nine game deficit in September to advance to the postseason… then again there is no team like the Rays.
The Tampa Bay Rays accomplished both those feats, one coming with on Tuesday night and the other in the final game of the season with a dramatic 8-7 comeback win over the New York Yankees coupled with Boston’s 4-3 loss to the Orioles to win the AL Wild Card on Evan Longoria’s second home run of the game.
“Oh my God. It’s really made for some kind of book, whether it’s a fairy tale or something,” Longoria said. “It’s tough to do. But we did it somehow.”
Longoria’s second home run of the game and 31st on the season was barely inside the left-field foul pole and how fitting that it came just after the Boston/Baltimore result was shown on the scoreboard in which the 29,518 fans erupted with Boston’s loss.
No one could have written a script of this game or of the Rays season. Down 7-0 in the eighth inning the Rays fought back scoring three runs via a walk, a hit batter and a sacrifice fly before Evan Longoria capped the scoring with a 3-run home run to put the Rays within one run at 7-6.
“We just kept grinding it out again,” Dan Johnson. “We knew we needed a big inning. When is started out, in the eighth, I believe, we started to get the runners on, and the big hit-by-pitch, I think that turned everything around.”
He did it in the past against the Red Sox in 2008 [hit the game tying home run off Jonathan Papelbon in the top of the 9th at Fenway] and could he do it again, but against the Yankees? Joe Maddon was hoping.
Dan Johnson and his magical bat were called up as a pinch-hitter and again Johnson complied, though not against Papelbon but instead against former Durham Bull teammate Cory Wade. Johnson slammed Cory Wade’s pitch into the right field stands tying the game.
“I was just thinking, ‘Wow, did this just really happen,’ ” Longoria said.”When I saw it clear the fence it didn’t seem real.”
At the start of the season no one expected the Rays to make the post-season after losing so many players via free agency or trades. No one expected them to win 80 games – but manager Joe Maddon thought his team could win 84… and if they were able to pull off 90 it could be a trip to the playoffs. Maddon hit the nail on the head.
With David Price on the hill for the Rays, all expected a much better performance from the so-called ace of the staff. The performance though didn’t live up to those expectations as Price was shelled for six runs on six hits in four innings.
Price gave up two home runs to Mark Teixeira, one a grand slam then a solo shot which gave the Yankees a 6-0 lead. Andruw Jones made it 7-0 with a solo shot in the in the fifth inning against Juan Cruz.
The Rays bullpen did their job once again, as Cesar Ramos, Dane De La Rosa, Joel Peralta, Kyle Farnsworth, Brandon Gomes and Jake McGee combined to hold the Yankees to no runs on two hits in the final six innings.
Now it’s off to Texas where the Rays will open their best-of-three division series against the Rangers beginning on Friday night in Texas.
“What a great story,” Johnny Damon said.
Up Next – ALDS vs. TexasRangers
Game 1: Friday, September 30 @ Texas
Game 2: Saturday, October 1 @ Texas
Game 3: Monday, October 3 – Tropicana Field
Game 4*: Tuesday, October 4 – Tropicana Field
Game 5*: Thursday, October 6 @ Texas
*= if necessary
The Rays were the only team in the AL that did not score 10 or more runs in a home game this season. The last time that happened was 1976 when the Angels and Orioles didn’t do it.
Division Series Tickets
Tickets for Game 3 and Game 4 (if necessary) of the American League Division Series at Tropicana Field will go on sale on Friday, Sept. 30, at 1:00 p.m. ET exclusively on raysbaseball.com. The Rays would host Game 3 and Game 4 (if necessary) of the ALDS on Monday, Oct. 3 and Tuesday, Oct. 4. Game times are to be determined.
Any remaining tickets would go on sale on Saturday, Oct. 1 at 9:00 a.m. through all Ray’s ticket outlets including the Tropicana Field Box Office, Rays Tampa Pro Shop & Ticket Outlet (located at 400 N. Tampa Street in Downtown Tampa), all Ticketmaster locations and by calling 888-FAN-RAYS.
Winners of the Rays Division Series Ticket Opportunity will be notified via email on Thursday, (Sept. 30) evening, with details regarding their opportunity to purchase Division Series tickets in advance.
For more information, call 888-FAN-RAYS or visit raysbaseball.com.
For more info:Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers
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