We knew it wouldn't be easy. We knew it would take a miracle.
Well, the Rays did their part tonight, beating the magical, touched-by-the-hand-of-God Orioles, but it was the Rangers--Oh, those pesky Rangers--who couldn't get it done against the A's from the Land of Oaks. It looks like this:
Rays beat Orioles 5-3
A's beat Rangers 4-3
It's an odd feeling, really. On the night, you can't fault the Rays. They came out and beat Wei-Yin Chen, a pitcher who'd handled the offense several times this season. (Presumptive) Team MVP Ben Zobrist homered in the fourth and Chris Gimenez dealt the knock-out blow with a two RBI double in the seventh..
On the pitching side of things, Alex Cobb went right after the O's hot bats, allowing just one run on a Matt Wieters oppo-homer over the short fence in left (very Long-162-esque). He pitched seven strong innings and K'd seven. When the off-season rosterbation commences Cobb should be mentioned aplenty.
On the home stretch, you can't fault the Rays. After digging themselves a gaping hole with losses to the Yankees, Red, Sox, and O's in mid-September, the Rays came back and played some lights-out baseball, going 11-1 over their last 12 (arbitrary endpoints be damned!). When we have to watch the O's, A's, Yankees, Tigers, or Rangers in the ALCS and beyond, we can play the "what if" game--the blame game--but, today, let's appreciate a Rays team that is one win away from 90 wins.
Being knocked out of the playoff race tonight was like losing the Powerball. There was the slightest of chances--the slimmest of margins, and, yes, just like the odds predicted, the Rays lost out. But, in my mind, there's something to be said for the faint glimmer of hope--the "what if I won 40 million dollars" daydream that you indulge yourself with for two minutes. As Rays fans we got to ride that dream all the way into October. And, you never know, we still might hit the Powerball itself and score a cool three bucks, A.K.A. a Cy Young for David Price.