It was a bitter pill to swallow, watching the Texas Rangers end the Tampa Bay Rays season for the second year in a row. It really felt like this was a year of destiny. They came back from nine games behind in the final four weeks of the season. They came back from a seven run deficit going into the eighth inning of the final game of the regular season. Then, they got a win in the first game of the division series from a rookie, making his second major league start.
With their ace taking the mound in game two the Rays had to feel good about their chances to advance. They had to like their chances even more when they spotted him a three run lead through the top of the fourth inning. James Shields got erratic though, hitting two batters and throwing two wild pitches. He gave up five runs in the bottom of the fourth and the Rays never seemed the same. Did they have a sense of déjà vu after what had happened between these clubs last year? After watching the leader of their rotation struggle, did they feel like their late season magic had run out?
As this year’s postseason progresses, it looks like they just played a better team. The Rangers have made mince meat out of some really good pitchers. The firepower in their lineup is hard to match. The Rays didn’t have nearly enough offense to match up with them. What they did have, was pitching that made the Rangers earn their way to the next round. The Rays held them to 16 runs for the four games and that was with the eight run outburst in game two.
What hurts the most is how the Rays have lost to the Rangers. Going back to last year’s series, the Rays two big guns, Shields and David Price, have gone 0-5 against Texas in the playoffs. You can’t expect to win if you’re aces can’t get it done. It comes to that point where you wonder, why can’t the Rays beat these guys? Their pitching is good but it’s not that good. Their bats are great, but everybody knows the old adage about pitching in the postseason. The only consolation, if there is any, is that the Rangers have gone on to the World Series each of these seasons.
Part of me wants to see them get it done for the American League. There is also the part of me that just doesn’t want to hear the media gushing about the genius that is Tony LaRussa. I can’t help but be a fan of guys like Michael Young and Josh Hamilton and manager Ron Washington. It just feels like they deserve a championship for how they play the game and what they have been through. They don’t deserve it more than the Rays though! So, go out there and win it Texas. We don’t want to say we lost out to the second best team in baseball….again.