Rays History

A Trip Down Memory Lane: The 2008 Tampa Bay Rays

By Seth Hisman
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - OCTOBER 11: Evan Longoria #3 of the Tampa Bay Rays hits a double against the Boston Red Sox in the third inning of game two of the American League Championship Series during the 2008 MLB playoffs at Tropicana Field on October 11, 2008 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - OCTOBER 11: Evan Longoria #3 of the Tampa Bay Rays hits a double against the Boston Red Sox in the third inning of game two of the American League Championship Series during the 2008 MLB playoffs at Tropicana Field on October 11, 2008 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images) /
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It feels so long ago, but merely ten years ago, The Tampa Bay Rays led by Carl Crawford and James Shields led the team to the World Series. They may have lost 4 games to 1 to the Philadelphia Phillies but this team took the country by storm. This team was loaded with young talent including a 22-year-old David Price, 22-year-old Evan Longoria, 23-year-old Melvin Upton Jr., and a starting rotation with no one older than 26.

Joe Maddon was able to lead this team to a 97-65 record which was enough to win the AL East. This would be the 2nd of 3 straight years where the winner of the AL East would go on to play in the Fall Classic (with the 2007 Red Sox and the 2009 Yankees winning the World Series). This truly shows how dominant the division was during this stretch.

The 2008 season was the first season the Rays dropped the word Devil from the name. The 2007 Tampa Bay Devil Rays went a mere 66-96. Under a new name and young talent, they were able to win 31 more games the next season. A change that drastic is very rare and shows the power in the young talent. They went from last place in the AL East to winning the AL East and playing in the World Series from one season to the next. However, the success would not last that long as they would go on to finish 3rd in the division the next season.

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The most exciting part of this run was the ALCS versus the defending World Series Champion Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox were able to steal Game 1 with a dominant 7 inning performance out of Daisuke Matsuzaka. Jonathan Papelbon was eventually able to get the save in the 2-0 loss. Game 2 was arguably one of the most exciting games in the season as we walked off with the win in the 11th inning. Melvin Upton was able to hit a walk-off sacrifice fly to give the Rays a 9-8 win. David Price got a playoff win from coming in and getting the final 2 outs in the 11th.

Dominating the Rays in games 3 and 4, winning by 8 and 9 runs respectively gave the Rays a 3-1 series lead and had them feeling confident they would play in the Fall Classic. However, a walk-off single by J.D. Drew which scored Kevin Youkilis gave the Sox confidence and a new life. They were able to respond by winning Game 6 4-2 and set the stage for a winner-takes-all Game 7 at the Trop.

Hopefully, the 2019 edition of the Tampa Bay Rays with a large number of prospects and a hunger to win can show promise like the 2008 Rays once did. A year from now, I hope we can all say that the 2019 team reminds us off the one that is from the distant past.

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