The thing about opportunity is that it can slip away just as quickly as it presents itself. For the Tampa Bay Rays that almost happened tonight. They had battled so hard to draw even with the Boston Red Sox, one had to wonder what they would do now that they weren’t chasing anymore. For a while Tuesday night it seemed as if the miraculous run was coming to an end. Instead, in true Tampa Bay Rays fashion, they rallied back and pulled out a 5-3 win.
It started out like a night where things were meant to be for the Rays. Jeremy Hellickson cruised through a three up three down first, something even James Shields couldn’t do last night, and allowed only a single in the second. The Rays jumped up 2-0 in the bottom half of the second when Ben Zobrist followed a Johnny Damon single with a two run homer to right. Sean Rodriguez then singled up the middle and advanced to second on a wild pickoff throw from Bartolo Colon. A two run lead and a runner at second, and the Rays had just the start they were looking for. Unfortunately the Rays made three straight outs and the opportunity passed. For a few moments it seemed if that would be the story of the night.
They had base runners in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings. In the third they had runners at first and second with nobody out and again they made three straight outs and failed to score. Meanwhile, the Yankees chipped away at the Rays lead one run at a time. They scored a run in the third, added a run in the fifth and then took the lead in the sixth. Alex Rodriguez led off with a walk and scored after back-to-back doubles by Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher.
Things turned in the Rays’ favor after an intentional walk to Jorge Posada. With the bases loaded Russell Martin hit a sharp ground ball to third. Evan Longoria stepped on the bag fired to second and Ben Zobrist turned and threw to first. The Rays ended the bases loaded, no one out threat, with a triple play. This improbable turn of events fired up the Rays and the “Trop.”
In the seventh, Joe Girardi went to his bullpen and brought in Rafael Soriano. The former Ray walked B.J. Upton and Evan Longoria to start the inning. Matt Joyce stepped in, and on a 1-0 fastball, took Soriano deep for a three run homer. The Rays took a 5-3 lead and would hold on to win by that score.
The win sets up an unbelievable final day of the regular season. They will once again face a must-win scenario. David Price will take the mound looking to win his second straight start versus the Yankees. It’s been a crazy month of baseball in the AL East and the last day looks to be no different.