Hell Freezes Over…Tampa Bay Rays Advance to World Series

I can’t believe that I’m actually writing this but “Here are your American League Champion, Tampa Bay Rays.”

Matt Garza would not let the Rays lose their 3-1 lead against Boston and would not let their incredible season evaporate as he powered his ‘Devil’ Rays to a 3-1 victory in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series. Garza pitched into the eighth inning, giving up only one run on two hits, and outperformed Jon Lester for the second time in less than a week. And I’m sitting here now thinking that I have played on the same team as a guy who’s now playing in the World Series. How cool is that? Petaluma American Little League, representing the American League. Nice job Mr. Jonny Gomes!

Jonny Gomes (Where's Joey!!!)

My Former Little League Teammate: Jonny Gomes (Where

From the Associated Press:

Down to their last chance, the Tampa Bay Rays left no doubt they were World Series-worthy, after all.

The young Rays completed a stunning run to their first pennant, holding off the defending champion Boston Red Sox 3-1 Sunday night behind Matt Garza’s masterful pitching in Game 7 of the AL championship series.

The Rays nearly let it slip away when they blew a seven-run lead late in Game 5 and lost meekly Saturday night. But when rookie David Price struck out J.D. Drew with the bases loaded to end the eighth inning, Tampa Bay showed it had plenty of resolve, too.

Baseball’s doormat since starting play in 1998, the Rays were a 200-1 shot to win the World Series before the season started. Now, they’ll host the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 1 Wednesday night.

Willy Aybar homered and Evan Longoria and Rocco Baldelli also drove in runs to support Garza, who limited the defending champions to Dustin Pedroia’s first-inning homer and Jason Bay’s one-out single in the seventh to end Boston’s bid for a third pennant in five years.

Four more wins and manager Joe Maddon’s bunch will become the first team to go from worst in the majors to World Series champion in just one season.

New York Times

Credit: New York Times

From the New York Times:

The Red Sox, the resilient defending champions, were unable to complete the type of stylish comeback that has symbolized them. After rallying from a three games to one deficit to even the series, the Red Sox were hoping that Lester could guide them. But Garza and the Rays were better. Boston is 9-2 in elimination games since 2004.

The Rays navigated through a tense eighth to assure themselves of playing host to the Phillies in the opener of the World Series on Wednesday night. David Price, the Rays’ fifth pitcher in the inning, struck out J. D. Drew with a 97-mile-per-hour fastball to leave the bases loaded. Price screamed into his glove after notching the biggest out of the season. Price then finished off the Red Sox in the ninth.

Garza allowed one run and two hits while striking out nine in seven-plus innings. Lester surrendered three runs in seven innings.

By advancing to the World Series, the Rays are engineering one of the best worst-to-first stories in baseball history. Only the 1991 Braves lost more games in the season before they shockingly rushed into the World Series. The Braves lost 97 games in 1990, one more than the Rays lost a year ago.

If the Rays had lost Game 7, the number seven would have haunted them in the off-season. The Rays had a 7-0 lead in Game 5 and were seven outs away from clinching the A.L.C.S. But the Red Sox scored eight runs to win, then won Game 6, too. Since the Rays avoided a collapse and prevailed in Game 7, it is a lucky number for them now.

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