It has now been 10 years since the Tampa Bay Rays shocked the baseball world and gave the sport one of the most historic turnaround in its history.
The stunning reversal led to an intense rivalry with the Boston Red Sox, with whom the Rays had enjoyed highly contested matchups all season long. The Rays would win the division, while the Red Sox took the Wild Card. Poetically, the two teams met in the League Championship Series.
Part of the caveat of the two teams’ success over the course of the year, was their failure to win as the visiting ball club against one another.
The Rays had lost their first seven contests of the year at Fenway Park, before finally breaking through and taking two games in early September, helping them regain control of the division lead. Meanwhile, at home, the Rays stymied the Red Sox, taking 8 of 9.
So, after two excellent games to begin the ALCS, the two teams were split at a game apiece with the series heading to Boston for the next three games. The Red Sox were now the heavy favorites to win, considering the success they had at home all year long against the Rays.
What happened next was stunning.
During Game 3, against Jon Lester, the Rays pummeled the historic park. They launched four home runs, with Evan Longoria and B.J. Upton continuing their postseason tear. Rocco Baldelli, a Rhode Island native, launched a ball over the Monster, and Carlos Pena added a solo shot of his own. The Rays took home an easy, 9-1 victory, taking control of the series.
The next night, it was the same story.
Three runs scored in the first, powered by home runs from Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria. Willy Aybar added a blast in the 3rd, and the Rays just kept racking up the score, eventually scoring 13 runs, taking a 13-4 victory, and now were just one win away from the reaching the World Series.
48 hours later, during Game 5, the Rays jumped out once more, taking an early advantage over the Red Sox. B.J. Upton clobbered his 6th home run in the first, Carlos Pena would launch his 3rd in the 3rd inning, along with Evan Longoria who belted his 6th longball of the postseason. The Rays offense could not be stopped.
They had built up a 7-0 lead in the 7th.
Unfortunately, the bullpen imploded and the Red Sox came storming back to walk it off in the 9th and send the series back to Tampa Bay. Boston would take game 6 to tie the series at 3 games apiece.
In game 7, the Rays did everything right and took the decisive game to advance to the World Series.
During those three games in Boston, the Rays offense was relentless.
- B.J. Upton - .500/.600/1.083 - 2 HR - 8 RBI - 15 PA
- Carlos Pena - .417/.533/1.167 - 3 HR - 5 RBI - 15 PA
- Evan Longoria - .250/.357/1.000 - 3 HR - 4 RBI - 14 PA
- Willy Aybar - .545/.545/.818 - 1 HR - 5 RBI - 11 PA
- Carl Crawford - .429/.429/.714 - 0 HR - 2 RBI - 14 PA
As a whole, the offense during those three games in Boston, slashed .315/.397/.667 with 10 HR over 126 plate appearances, scoring a total of 29 runs.