Tampa Bay Rays struggle in World Series

October 29, 2008 8:32:46 PM PDT
The worst-to-first Tampa Bay Rays didn't bedevil Philadelphia for long. After a late rally to tie Game 5, Part I at 2-all before it was suspended for rain Monday night, the Rays couldn't sustain the momentum over the final three innings, losing 4-3 Wednesday.

Resilient all season long during an improbable run to the AL pennant, the young Rays came up short in every possible way in losing on baseball's biggest stage to the Phillies four games to one.

Good pitching, solid defense and timely hitting were the recipe for success during the regular season. The Rays didn't get any of those ingredients against the Phillies, especially during the three away games.

They stumbled in World Series, making uncharacteristic mistakes on defense and struggling at the plate, with Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria going 0-for-31 with 15 strikeouts before finally pulling out of their slides early in Game 5.

Longoria went 1-for-20 with two RBIs and nine strikeouts. Pena was 2-for-17 with two RBIs and six strikeouts. Without the sluggers delivering their usual production, the Rays hit three homers after clubbing a record 16 against the Red Sox in the ALCS.

Tampa manager Joe Maddon and his players felt like they gained momentum by erasing a 2-0 deficit before play was stopped Monday and liked their chances of taking the series back to Tropicana Field, where they compiled the best home record in baseball this year.

Longoria and Pena both delivered their first World Series hits and drove in runs spawning hope before the suspension. Rocco Baldelli took up where they left off, delivering his first hit of the series - a solo homer Wednesday night - to make it 3-3 in the seventh.

The Rays, who had never won more than 70 games in a season before this year, held off Boston for the AL East title and rebuffed another challenge from the Red Sox when they took the AL championship series in seven games.


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