Often I will sit down and start composing my thoughts while I’m watching a game. I write about it as I see it, while the emotions and feelings are fresh. I do this for time also, so that I can get the information on the site as quickly as possible. Last night was one of those times where what I started writing was nothing like what ended up on the site. Thank Goodness! In a couple of innings the Rays took everything I had been working on and made it worthless. What is featured here is what was rendered meaningless by the tenacity and spirit of the Rays to battle back and overcome all odds. It captures the despair and desperation that Rays’ fans were feeling before one of the greatest comebacks of all time turned that despair into unadulterated jubilation.
It wasn’t supposed to end this way. The Rays had battled so hard to get back in the wild card race and in just a matter of swings their season was over. They fell behind early and fell further behind as the game wore on. How did this happen? The pitching was lined up just like they wanted and the offense had been better the last few games. But the loose and aggressive Rays of the last month suddenly looked shaken and rattled.
From the start, David Price was laboring to get outs. In the first, Curtis Granderson singled following a Derek Jeter strikeout to start the game. Mark Teixeira then flied to left. Price got Robinson Cano to ground to second baseman Ben Zobrist and it looked like he was out of the inning. Zobrist booted it and the ball went off his glove and rolled through his legs into the outfield. Granderson came around from second to score and the Rays immediately were in the hole. In the second, Price loaded the bases and Teixeira turned a 3-2 fastball into a grand slam. Two of the things the Rays pride themselves on, their pitching and their defense, disappeared on them when they needed them most. Price would give up six runs in just four innings of work. And to think, fans were worried about Jeff Niemann pitching the wild card playoff game.
The Rays didn’t look comfortable at the plate either. The Yankees were throwing a hodgepodge of pitchers at them, pitching an inning or two and then coming out in favor of someone else. It was hardly an all-star mix. Names like Botances, Kontos and Laffey pitched in first few innings. Against them though, the Rays looked hesitant. They took a lot of pitches, some for good reason, but they also let some good opportunities go by. The shock of being down so much so quickly seemed to overwhelm the Rays when they came up to bat.
It’s hard to accept an ending like this. Somehow, it shouldn’t have ended at all. If it had played out like it was scripted, the Rays would be getting ready for a one game playoff and the Red Sox would be flying to Tampa. It would have been a comeback for the ages, both the game and the season. It was not to be and instead we will have to find solace in the fact that the Rays even made it this close. Finding it may be a long and arduous search.
Thanks to the Rays and their belief in themselves and their team, that search is postponed pending further notice.