A better script couldn’t be written than the story of the 2011 Tampa Bay Rays. In 2008, it was a story with new “chapters” added as the magical season progressed. The sequel to that story is not 2009 or 2010, it’s this year. This year is the second year that the Rays have shocked the baseball nation. What makes this season so amazing is how the Rays earned a spot in the playoffs after this long and winding road of the regular season. An unforgettable season that will go down in baseball history because of the epic collapse of the Boston Red Sox. A team that was often a preseason favorite to win it all, after their enormous off-season. Just like in 2008, everyone wrote off the Rays in the beginning of the season. It seemed as if many criticts would prove to be right when the Rays were trailing the Wild Card by 9 games in September. The hustling and worry-free Rays then started to slowly climb back into the picture, as the pressured Red Sox were totally collapsing. It would come down to the wire, game 162, to decide who would play in October or if there would be a tiebreaker. The Rays were trailing 7-0 in the 8th, and Boston was up in the 9th with two outs and nobody on. It couldn’t more perfect than what happened on that historic night. The Rays would comeback and be saved by Dan Johnson, just like in 2008, and would walk-off by none other than Tampa Bay’s sports icon Evan Longoria. But it gets even better though. Meanwhile in Baltimore, Paplebon is trying to close out a sure win. With a 3-2 Boston lead, the O’s were down to their last out of the season with the bases empty. There would be no Irish Jig for Paplebon that night, as the Birds would smack three hits in a row for a comeback victory.
The last hit was a catchable line-drive to left field, and guess who dropped the baseball to end their depressing season? Oh yes, it was Carl Crawford. It was just a perfect day of baseball. That night really defined the miraculous season for the Rays into a nutshell. Being down 7-0 in the 8th with their rivals an out a way from winning, the Rays once again showed the world that anything is possible in the game of baseball. Nobody would of ever thought it would all play it like this; but that’s not what the Rays needed to win. The incredible season isn’t over, as they still have another big mission in 2011. The Rays want and can bring a title to Tampa. Doing that would silence the countless critics and fans that have been putting down the Rays’ fans and stadium all year. Winning it all would surely quiet the many saying that relocation is the only option for the franchise. Last night was a step in the right direction, as the Rays stunned the Rangers with a brutal 9-0 Game 1 win in Arlington.
Phenom Matt Moore was called to start the game against the huge Texas bats in just his second major league start. Just called up a few weeks ago, Moore didn’t let anyone down with a stellar outing. Seven scoreless innings in a postseason game at Arlington is absolutely remarkable. With all the momentum, it will be exciting to see what the Rays can do in the postseason. But just like in the regular season, we’ll just have to wait and see how it all plays out.