On September 23rd the Rays celebrated a walk off pinch hit home run off the bat of James Loney to defeat the Baltimore Orioles. After the game the team departed for a road trip that would take them through New York, Toronto, Texas, Cleveland, and Boston.
The Rays faced elimination in Game 162 against the Blue Jays but held on for a 7-6 victory to force a 1-game playoff with the Texas Rangers in Arlington. After their Sunday afternoon victory north of the border the Rays flew to Arlington and on Monday defeated the Texas Rangers 5-2 to win the second wild card.
After celebrating in Arlington on Monday evening the team departed Arlington Tuesday morning and flew to Cleveland to take on the Indians on Wednesday evening.
After defeating the Indians 4-0 they earned a trip to the American League Division Series (ALDS) and headed to Boston to take on the Red Sox on Friday and Saturday dropping both games.
Finally, the Rays returned home to Tropicana Field – the final damage of the road trip – 5-city, 10-game, 12 days and 5,631 miles. They landed in Tampa Bay at 1:49 a.m on Sunday morning and many of the players took Sunday to recharger their batteries.
The Rays return home and find themselves facing an elimination game once again – their fourth such game in less than a week.
The Good News:
The game is expected to be a sellout. Since the start of 2008 the Rays have a 54-24 record when playing in front of home crowds of 30,000 or more.
The Bad News:
According to Rays Game Notes the Rays are the 23rd team to fall behind 2-0 in ALDS history and are attempting to become the fifth team to complete a comeback. The other four teams were the 2003 Red Sox (vs Oakland), 2001 Yankees (vs Oakland), 1999 Red Sox (vs Cleveland), and the 1995 Mariners (vs Yankees).
Although the Rays are 54-24 since 2008 in when playing in front of home crowds of 30,000 or more that record is 49-17 in the regular season but only 5-7 in the post season.
Lucky 13 for Cobb?
Cobb is the first starting pitcher to make a post-season start on his birthday since Kyle Lohse on October 4, 2003 against the New York Yankees.
He will be the 13th pitcher to make a post-season start on his birthday and will be attempting to be the fourth pitcher to pick up a win.
The other 3 pitchers to win a post-season game on their birthday were the Yankees Orlando Hernandez on October 11, 2000 (vs Sea), the Los Angeles Dodgers Tim Belcher on October 19,1988 (vs Oakkand), the Brooklyn Dodgers Jonny Podres (vs New York Yankees).
The starting pitchers’ teams went 7-5 in those 12 previous games.