ST. PETERSBURG, FL. – The curtain will rise on the postseason Thursday at Tropicana Field.
The Rays, who will play in the American League Division Series against the winner of Tuesday night’s wild-card game between the Yankees and Red Sox, are in the postseason for a third straight year and the seventh time in their 24 seasons.
Kevin Cash’s squad, which set a team record with 100 wins and will have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, has its sights on doing something the Rays have yet to achieve: win a World Series.
The Rays have made it to the Fall Classic twice. They came up short against the Phillies in 2008 and again last fall against the Dodgers.
Beginning with their run to the World Series 13 years ago, here is a look at the Rays’ postseason history.
The Rays’ first-ever playoff game, in their 11th season, was at Tropicana Field against the White Sox in the ALDS. Evan Longoria hit a pair of solo homers and a run-scoring single to back James Shields, who went six innings to pick up the victory in a 6-4 win in front of 35,041.
A 6-2 win in Game 4 in Chicago clinched the series and sent the Rays to the ALCS where they defeated the Red Sox in seven games. In the seventh game, series MVP Matt Garza allowed only one run over seven innings in a 3-1 win. Rocco Baldelli’s single in the fifth drove in Willy Aybar with the decisive run. David Price picked up the save.
The World Series opened in Philly where Joe Maddon’s team was able to split thanks to James Shields’ effort (5⅔ scoreless innings) in Game 2. The Rays lost the next three, however, as the Phillies were crowned champions following a Game 5 that stretched over two days. With the score 2-2, the game was suspended due to rain in the sixth inning — it was 47 degrees, windy and raining at first pitch — and resumed the following day. With the game tied at three, the Phillies plated the winning run on Pedro Feliz’s RBI single off Chad Bradford. The Rays scored only 14 runs in the five games.
The Rays lost in the ALDS to the Rangers in consecutive years. The series in 2010, in which the home team lost each game, went the distance after Texas won the first two games at the Trop by a combined 11-1. The Rays responded by winning twice in Arlington before coming home and losing the decisive fifth game, 5-1.
The Rays got a pair of homers and five RBIs from catcher Kelly Shoppach in a 9-0 Game 1 win over the Rangers in 2011. Texas, though, took the series by winning the next three games by a combined four runs.
Starter Alex Cobb and three relievers combined for a 4-0 shutout of the Indians in the wild card game. That sent the Rays to the ALDS where they lost to eventual World Series champion Red Sox in four games.
The Rays were able to stave off elimination with a 5-4 win in Game 3 on Jose Lobaton’s game-winning homer in the bottom of the ninth. The Red Sox won Game 4, and the series, at the Trop the next night, 3-1.
Charlie Morton and three relievers combined to limit the host A’s to a single run in a 5-1 wild card win. The Rays scored all of their runs on home runs, including two by Yandy Diaz, who led off the game by going yard.
After losing the first two games of the ALDS at Houston, the Rays evened the series at home. They outscored the Astros 14-4 in the two games at the Trop before losing Game 5 back in Houston, 6-1. Blake Snell made his only two career relief appearances in the series and picked up a save in Game 4.
An expanded postseason that followed a pandemic-shortened regular season was played in the bubbles of home field sites (wild card), San Diego (division and championship series), and Arlington, Texas (World Series).
The Rays swept Toronto in a best-of-three wild-card series at Tropicana Field to advance to the ALDS where they defeated the Yankees in five games. The fifth game, and the series, will forever be remembered for Mike Brosseau’s homer off Aroldis Chapman that capped a 10-pitch at-bat in the top of the ninth, five weeks after he was beaned in the head by the Yankees’ reliever. The home run gave the Rays a 2-1 lead before Diego Castillo retired the side in the ninth.
The Rays won the first three games of the ALCS against Houston, which roared back to force a Game 7. In the decisive game, the Rays took a 4-0 lead before holding on for a 4-2 win and a trip to the World Series. Randy Arozarena hit four of his record 10 postseason homers in the ALCS.
The Rays’ second World Series was a six-game thriller against the Dodgers at new Globe Life Park in Arlington. Los Angeles won the final two games with the decisive Game 6 being memorable — or forgetful — for Kevin Cash lifting a dominant Blake Snell (5 ⅓ IP, 2H, 9K) in favor of Nick Anderson in the sixth inning with the Rays leading 1-0. Three batters later the Dodgers had a 2-1 lead en route to a 3-1 win to clinch the series.
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