After giving the Rays a standing ovation for the sheer focus and will to win tonight against Cliff Lee, Joe had to offer up a personal curtain call to Jason Bartlett.

Bartlett’s extreme hustle from first base to beat the throw to second off a Carl Crawford routine grounder to second was extraordinary.

Truly the stuff of pennant winners.

That kept the second out off the board in the eighth, probably led to Lee being more aggressive with Evan Longoria, and the rest goes down as one of the great wins of the season. Rays 6, Rangers 4.

Joe almost has to believe a team-focused win like this against Lee rivals the confidence boost from Matt Garza’s no-hitter exactly three weeks prior. The Rays took that win and ran with it a good ways, and Joe expects a similar response through the rest of this Rangers series.

The Kool-Aid tastes real good right now with the Yankees losing and the Rays tied for first — 44 games left, a 5 1/2-game wild card cushion, and the final 10 against Seattle, Baltimore and Kansas City.

Sure, there’s plenty of time for an epic collapse. But the vise is finally in the ready position.

Joe doubts these Rays’ bats can get it done in October. But after a gutsy win like this, it’s harder to believe that will matter.

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9 Comments

  1. nick says:

    Joe, I liked the aggressive approach by the bats tonight. If we could do that to regular pitchers the bats could surely come alive

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    • JoeRaysFan says:

      Don't disagree, Nick, but that's more a byproduct of facing Cliff Lee, who's throwing strike after strike. Don't think the Rays, and the in-house geniuses that advise them, are wired to make a change in their approach.

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  2. Gatorbuc15 says:

    Perserverance- steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.

    That is exactly how the Rays played tonight!
    With Cliff Lee on the mound, they could not afford to give the Rangers the lead. So, when they went down by 1, I felt that their chances of winning were almost non-exsistant. When the Rays went down by 2, I almost shoved my foot through the WALL! As I now felt, that their chances of winning were in the crapper.
    But then something strange happened. B.J. got a bloop double, then Barlett got an infield single. Neither of which, did I really think would have a significant impact on the game while Lee was still in thier. Then Barlett beat out the throw to second. That's when a little thought went through my mind, "maybe, we still have a chance". Then Evan got the tieing run in (Thank you God)! I then felt that nothing on this green earth could stop us from winning this game! Let alone Cliff Lee. And I was right! C-PAIN got the winning run in, and Zorilla added some insurance! Rafa then waltzed into the 9th, and got the Rangers 1,2,3 for the save! Soriano style!

    Like you said Joe, I think this game was probably the best win the Rays had all season. Even more than Matt's No-No! Sorry, Matt. When they went down by 1, then 2 runs in the 8th, they could have easily thrown in the towl. They could have just excepted defeat, and taken the loss like men. I mean after all, they were facing the mighty and powerful Cliff Lee! A man that can strike you out, as soon as he sets his eye's you! A man that every expert in baseball, has dubbed the best pitcher in majors since Cy Young or Sandy Koufax! But NO! Instead, they beared down, tightened up their grips, and took it to Cliff Lee! They made Lee, an absolutely fantastic pitcher, and made him look like an absolute bum! As they rocked him for 4 runs in the bottom of the 8th, on the way to victory!

    They didn't give up. Even when they seemed to have no shot of winning, they won! In other words, they perservered!

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  3. nward63 says:

    Watching from the UK, I got the feeling that the strike zone for Lee was huge. Is that why the Rays got more aggresive from the 4th?

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    • Sarah says:

      You know, I happened to watch a bit of ESPN's baseball tonight after the game, and whoever was on that show (I never know their names) was making that point -- but justifying it, saying Lee throws so accurately that the umpires assume he's throwing strikes and give him the close calls, while Price was much wilder so the umpire was assuming his close pitches were balls. This commentator was saying this as though it were Price's fault -- e.g. if his control were better he'd get more close calls. I see what he's saying -- but it hardly seems right that the strike zone changes subtly depending on who is pitching.

      And to Joe: isn't it the "vise" that is in the ready position? I always thought "vice" was "depraved behavior" whereas a vise is the tool that grips things.

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      • JoeRaysFan says:

        Sarah, you're right, but Joe likes depravity so this was a tough call. I'll fix it.

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        • Sarah says:

          Not so fast - I'm actually having a good time wondering what it would look like for a team to have "vice" in the ready position -- and if that would provide them some sort of advantage!

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