A month ago, it looked like the Tampa Bay Rays were down for the count. Losers of 13 of their last 17, the Rays dropped from just one game back in the American League East and a sure bet for the playoffs all the way to 8.5 games back and just 1 game up for the second AL Wild Card spot. On September 12th, they entered their series finale against the Boston Red Sox demoralized. The first game saw the Red Sox beat David Price before Boston’s four-run 10th in the second game left the Rays even more disparaged. But then in the series finale, something started. The Rays blew a 3-1 lead but clawed their way to a 4-3 victory, getting a huge RBI double by Wil Myers in the 8th inning. And from that game, everything clicked. The win started a streak of 11 wins in 14 games as the Rays showed all of baseball that they were not bowing out. Once again, the Rays enter their third game in a series against the Boston Red Sox with all hope appearing to be loss. But if they can find a way to win just one game, they can give themselves a chance to change their fate.
Look at how much this team has been through! They started just 5-9, and some thought the season was heading for disaster even then. A series loss to the Red Sox and a pair of losses to the Yankees dropped them to just 38-37 as late as June 22nd. After reeling off 23 wins in 27 games from late June to late July, they lost 8 of their next ten games. Then came the near-collapse from the end of August to mid-September, the two losses to the Blue Jays that put their playoff hopes in jeopardy, and then the AL tiebreaker and Wild Card Games.
This team did not lose Evan Longoria for any significant time for the first time in three years, but they lost David Price, Alex Cobb, Desmond Jennings, and Matt Moore. Jeremy Hellickson fell down to earth and Joel Peralta came apart. Longoria slumped and Ben Zobrist was an undeserving All-Star. Kelly Johnson, Luke Scott, and Matt Joyce starred and then faded. Fernando Rodney went from perfection to disaster and Jake McGee joined him. How much more has to be said? This 2013 Tampa Bay Rays team has overcome more than any other team in the Rays’ brief history to make the postseason. Every time they finally stopped to take a breath, everything fell apart again. But now they’re here. They are in the postseason, defying the odds to make it back. How can this be the way it ends? This team has fallen apart too many times to count, but they always picked themselves back up and found a way to keep going. How could their season conclude without them showing the unfading resilience that has gotten them this far? After tonight, there are no guarantees. But after everything they have been through, there is no chance the Rays will go down without a fight.