ST. PETERSBURG — As Cole Figueroa turned third and headed home to score the run that gave the Rays an improbable and somewhat remarkable 6-5 win Saturday night, he saw both the excitement and the exhaustion on his Rays teammates' faces.
"At that point in time, you want it to be over as quickly as possible on the good side of things," Figueroa said. "They were like, 'Let's get this parade over and let's get inside.' "
Even after 15 innings, even after 5 hours and 16 minutes, they had some celebrating to do, winning a third straight game in walkoff style for the first time in franchise history.
"I've never even heard of three straight walkoffs," said second baseman Logan Forsythe, one of several unlikely stars. "It's pretty crazy."
More so because of how it happened. The Rays were down 5-0 after a miserable first inning by ace David Price, battled back to tie by the fifth, then winning it in the 15th on an error, Boston pitcher Andrew Miller sailing a throw to second into centerfield.
"We'll take it," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
The Rays were in position to win it because of the dazzling work by their pitchers, who allowed only two hits and two walks over the final 14 innings.
Price righted himself after the rough first — "Just executed pitches," he said — to get through the eighth, retiring 13 straight at one point. And the relievers that followed were equally as impressive — Jake McGee, Grant Balfour, Brad Boxberger and Cesar Ramos, who worked the final three innings.
"We win that game because we pitched so well," Maddon said. "They were spectacular."
At 15 innings, it matched the fourth-longest game in team history. At 5 hours and 16 minutes, it tied the sixth-longest by time. Players went up to the clubhouse for snacks and energy bars, and in the 14th an assortment of ice cream was brought to the dugout. For what was left of the Trop crowd of 23,569, stadium host Rusty Kath led a 14th-inning stretch.
"Toward the end there it was getting kind of weird," said leftfielder Brandon Guyer, who had a career-high four hits, including a tying two-run double. "But I knew eventually we would (score). I knew we'd come through. That just shows the battle of the team and what we're all about."
Having wasted repeated opportunities, the Rays (22-28) started their winning rally with a single by James Loney. Guyer, trying for a hit, dropped a good bunt that the Sox couldn't make a play on, putting runners on first and second. Desmond Jennings, after failing twice to get a bunt down, bounced a ball back to the mound. Miller turned to try to get a double play but instead threw the ball into centerfield, allowing Figueroa, who was pinch-running, to score and send the Sox to a ninth straight loss.
After having no walkoff wins through Wednesday, the Rays now had their third straight.
"It's rare, but we were due for a couple," Maddon said. "The last three days we've been able to get that little bit of mojo going again. It really means a lot. When you start feeling and learning how to win games late, that really can propel you."
Marc Topkin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays.
Rays games before Saturday that went 15 innings or longer:
|18||5-4 win over Orioles||Sept. 20, 2013|
|16||1-0 loss to Red Sox||July 17, 2011|
|16||9-8 loss to Red Sox||April 1, 2003|
|15||4-3 loss to Marlins||June 16, 2012|
|15||4-3 loss at A's||July 30, 2012|
|15||10-9 loss to Orioles||Aug. 4, 2000|