The Raysreturn home tomorrow night for Game 5 of the ALDS. That's something few thought possible after the team boarded the plane for Texas on Thursday night.
Really though, should we have expected any different? This Rays team never does anything the easy way. They make the playoffs two times in three years by out smarting their AL East brethren. They make the playoffs this season after being no hit twice. They become only the second team since 1920 to score more than 800 runs while hitting .250 or lower. They regularly feature two hitters with averages below .200, one in the heart of the order. They have a rookie catcher batting lead off.
There's just nothing normal or easy about them. Yet, here they are in the first winner take all game since Game 7 of the 2008 ALCS. This is why I think rooting for this team has to be one of the more unique experiences in sports. They're maddening at times, but electrifying at others. It's too easy to root for teams like the Yankees and Phillies. Only those strong at heart can handle this Rays team. If the drama of a Game 5 isn't enough for you, this could also be the final time numerous players put on a Rays uniform. Namely Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, Joaquin Benoit, and Rafael Soriano. I'm expecting a Rays victory, but if that's not the case I'm glad those players get to end their season at home.
On a side note, what are your predictions for Tuesday's game? What lineup do you expect to see against Lee?