They did it! For the first time in the franchise’s 11 year history the Tampa Bay Rays will play baseball in October! Scott Kazmir seals the deal with a nice 6 inning outing. Kaz scattered 5 hits over the 6 innings while allowing 1 free pass and compiling 5 strike outs. Kaz did manage to work himself into trouble a few innings but was bailed out by stellar defense. With bases loaded and no outs a Twin batter hit a pop fly to Fernando Perez in CF. The throw was cutoff by Carlos Pena who had the play in front of him and caught Justin Morneau leaning too far off 2nd base for a double play. The runner on 3rd did not tag and score. The last out in the inning was recorded with no runs scoring. That was a great play by Pena to help bail out Kaz in that inning.
The offense chipped away at Twin pitching to score their total of 7 runs in 4 innings. Pena led off the scoring barrage with a 2 RBI double off the SP Slowey. The big bangs came off the bats of Cliff Floyd and Perez, each sending solo blasts over the wall. The Ray hitters showed a great deal of patience at the plate and took the Twin SP deep into counts. This was a great overall offensive approach to the game!
It was awesome to see the Rays celebrate on the field at the end of this game! Actually it was unbelievable! At the beginning of the season it was clear this Ray team would improve on past performances. But no on had any idea by how much. I was going to be thrilled to see the team go .500 as I’m sure most Ray fans would have been. But this…..this is beyond all belief! Joe Maddon and the RFO deserve a ton of credit for GREAT talent evaluations and GREAT management of such! They took some veterans who were cast off from other teams and infused their leadership into the youth of this team. They made a GREAT trade for Jason Bartlett and Matt Garza. They rid the clubhouse of any negativity. They brought up the young AAA talent and put them in positions to be successful. And the players themselves…..they never gave up. No matter the circumstance they fought every game until the end. Enough cannot be said about the chemistry of this team. This is a special group enjoying a very special year.
The year isn’t over yet though. The Rays have their sights set on the AL East pennant. They gained a game on Boston with Boston losing to Toronto. I expect to see the Rays play as they have all season long Sunday and take the series from the Twins.
Congratulations Tampa Bay Rays!