Rays top Sox with improbable comeback

Parker Fox, Sports Editor

 

            Even some of the truest, most die-hard Rays fans probably hung it up on Thursday when the Rays were down 7-0 to the Yankees and the Red Sox led 3-2 over the Orioles.  With work/school the next day, it wasn’t worth losing a couple hours of sleep to witness the inevitable: the Rays would come up short after a remarkable September comeback.  But that all changed when Dan Johnson had a pinch-hit game tying home run with two outs in the 9th inning.  With a .106 batting average, Rays fans still watching had to be shaking their heads.  But when Johnson hit a rocket into the right field stands, a special night in baseball was just beginning.

            Rays 3rd baseman Evan Longoria ended the game in the 12th inning with a home run that just sneaked around the left field foul pole.  Just three minutes before, Red Sox LF Carl Crawford missed a catchable fly ball, allowing the last place Orioles a walk-off win.

            “Everything about that night was like a movie,” says junior Jacob Freifeld.  “It was easily the greatest sports night I’ve ever witnessed.”

            The Rays and Sox were tied through 161 games, and one game would decide the wild card winner.  If both teams won or both teams lost, they would have a one game tie breaker in St. Pete the following night.  With the Red Sox leading entering the 9th inning against the last place team in the AL East and the Rays losing 7-0 at one point, chances for Tampa Bay were grim.  But Longoria sparked the comeback with a three run homer and finished it off with his walk off in the 12th.

            As if this story weren’t poetic enough, Crawford, who could have caught the ball for the Red Sox, went to Boston from the Rays last off-season for a bigger paycheck.

            The Rays have once again showed the world that they should never be doubted or counted out.  Entering September, they overcame the largest deficit to get into the playoffs ever and did it in spectacular fashion.