Rays’ postseason

Tyler Higbee, Staff Writer

It is that time of the year when the temperature starts to cool down and the baseball post season begins. October is when you can make a name for yourself in the MLB with a strong pitching outing or a clutch hit or by leading your team to a World Series victory. This year the Tampa Bay Rays won the AL East and were looking to take their accomplishments to a new level and bring a World Series ring home to St. Petersburg. They took on the Texas Rangers, who won the AL West division by a whopping nine games.

In game one of the series the Texas Rangers took a trip to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg and decided to jump out to an early lead in the series and beat the Rays 5-1. This game matched up each team’s ace and Cliff Lee out-pitched David Price like he has done to a majority of opposing pitchers this year. Cliff Lee went seven innings and gave up only a single run on a Ben Zobrist solo homer. The Rays seemed not in sync at the plate all night and couldn’t get anything going. The Rangers had solo homeruns from Nelson Cruz and Bengi Molina.

The following day they went at it again at the Trop and once again the Rangers stole another game from the Rays. Anytime you can steal a road victory in the post season it really helps your chances of winning the series. Texas won game two 6-0. Game two was all around dominated by the Rangers. They received a strong performance from pitcher Cody Wilson and their bullpen pitchers who kept the Rays down and out, only allowing them two hits through all nine innings. The Rangers opened up the game on a controversial call at the plate on a swinging strike that was called a ball and the next pitch Michael Young hit a two-run homerun to put the Rangers up 5-0. The mood after the hit was never the same. The Rays’ season was close to the end.

Game three was a game that went down to the wire and the Rays and kept their season alive with a 6-3 victory. The Rangers led most of the game until the 8th inning when Carlos Pena singled up the middle and tied the game at 2. The Rays added another in the inning and took the lead. The Rangers answered back with a run of their own in the bottom of the 8th but it wouldn’t be enough. The Rays scored three in the top of the 9th and shut down the Rangers in the bottom half to get their first win of the series.

In game four the Rays jumped out early and never looked back. The dominated the Rangers and sent the series back to St. Petersburg for a game five with a 5-2 win. In this game the Rays got much needed good play from some of the star players who have carried them through the season. Evan Longoria came up big in game four after having poor performances in the previous three games. He came up big with three hits, including a two-run homerun in the 5th inning putting the Rays up 3-0. Tampa Bay added a couple more on RBI singles from Carlos Pena and B.J. Upton and lead 5-0 after six innings of play. The Rangers added two late runs but couldn’t catch the Rays.

After an eventful series and the only divisional series that went the full five games, they were going to decide who moves on to play the New York Yankees in one final game. Winner moves on and the loser goes home ending their season. Each team needed a win to keep their season alive so they sent out the aces to battle one more time, Cliff Lee for the Rangers and David Price for the Rays. In the early going the Rangers stole a couple of runs from Tampa Bay on an infield groundball and a throwing error on a steal. Each run was manufactured on the base path by the Texas runners. That’s all that Cliff Lee would need on a night where the Rangers won the series and beat the Rays 5-1. Cliff Lee made history that night by only giving up one run on six hits and striking out 11; he struck out the most batters by any pitcher ever in one playoff series with 21 combined in the two games he pitched against the Rays. Also both teams made history by participating in the first series in the history of the Major Leagues that each game was won by the visiting team on the road.

The Texas Rangers move on to play the New York Yankees who made easy work of the Minnesota Twins. For the Rays it means a couple weeks off and then back to the drawing board for next season. With big players like Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena becoming free agents this off season, the Tampa Bay Rays have a lot of thinking to do to prepare and try to win a championship next year.