Welcome to the Rays Tank, where you're almost out of chances to RaysUp before the Tank runs dry. Today is the final Tank of the season, and it's been fun, folks. Thanks for inviting me onto you computer screens. Let's go out on a high note with a remembrance of one of the great moment in Ray's history: the first ever Rays' playoff game, from this day in 2008, against the Chicago White Sox.
[Note: Sorry for the video quality. I'm not sure why all the 2008 videos look like this, but it's all we have to work with. On the plus side, the soft focus tech now matches the soft focus of your memories.]
Rookie star Evan Longoria welcomed the Rays to the post-season in proper fashion when he led off the second inning and took the first pitch he saw over the wall in left to give the Rays a 1-0 lead.
The lead would not last long. After giving up back-to-back singles to start the third, James Shields was doing his best to work out of the jam. But with two outs and runners on second and third, Dewayne Wise hit this frozen rope to right to put it on the board for the Pale Hose and give Chicago 3-1 lead.
But this was 2008, and the Rays did not spend much time sulking. After a Jason Bartlett single to start the bottom of the third, Akinori Iwamura drove this shot to center, then hustled his way in to third for a triple.
A strikeout and a game-tying sac fly later, and Longo was back at the plate, where he took a hanging curve from Javier Vazquez, and did what you're supposed to do with hanging curves.
4-3, good guys.
The Rays would plate two more in the fifth, one of them which was again off the bat off Longoria -- this time on a single -- which you can see below starting at about 52 seconds.
Big Game James wasn't bad, but he wasn't great either, going six and a third innings, giving up three runs on six hits, a walk, and a hit batsman, while striking out four. The problem was, one of those hits, along with the walk and the HBP, came in that last third of an inning. Meaning that when Joe Maddon called on Grant Balfour, the Aussie was in quite a spot.
With the game at a crisis point, Balfour K'd Juan Uribe swinging for the second out Next up was Orlando Cabrera.
J.P. Howell made quick work of the Sox in the eighth, and Dan Wheeler (despite giving up this solo homer to Paul Konerko after an eleven pitch at-bat) brought it home.
Rays win! Now here's Ian with your link dump.
- Oh, no biggie. Kevin Kiermaier just threw a strike from the outfield at 100 mph last night.
- Let's wring our hands over Evan Longoria's declined power and invent narratives about it. Surely he'd hit more home runs if he cared more about individual stats.
- Defense independent batting. You know who may not have been as bad as they seemed in 2014? The Rays catchers.
- Here's a nice visualization looking at offensive production by position on the defensive spectrum. The Rays problems are where we thought they were. Also, poor Mike Trout.