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Rays Tales: Two crazy days in May

If the wackiness of the first month is any indication, there's really no way to know where the Rays will end up this season. But if they get where they planned before all of the injuries and inconsistencies, they might well look back to the first days of May as the point that turned their season around. Consider that in a span of 36 hours, the Rays played 32 innings in two cities and came away with three wins. They swept a day-night doubleheader they were forced to play in Boston on Thursday, got to New York at 3:30 a.m. Friday, then scored a wild 14-inning win over the Yankees in a game that ended just before 1 a.m. Saturday. "Momentous," manager Joe Maddon said. "Very momentous."

Three the hard way

Winning three games in two days is unusual but not unprecedented. It was the fourth time in their 17 seasons the Rays did it and first since April 2011 in Minnesota. And while the Thursday and Friday wins weren't as significant as when they did so in Baltimore during their September 2008 AL East title run, it was pretty important as they had lost six of seven coming in, then beat the Red Sox and Yankees.

• The 32 innings were their most ever for consecutive days, having played 30 twice.

• They were on the field for exactly 13 of the 36 hours from the start of Thursday's matinee to the end of Friday's game.

• It was the second time they played an extra-inning game on the day after a doubleheader.

• They scored 18 runs on 34 hits, including five homers, while leaving 24 on. They allowed 11 runs, walked 18, threw 564 pitches and didn't get a win from a starter.

• Opponents had the winning run on second or third in the ninth inning or later five times.

About Friday night

There was so much that went into Friday's 10-5, 14-inning win against the Yankees, starting with the solid seven-inning start from David Price, highlighted by their five-run outburst in the top of the 14th, featuring an unexpectedly effective 2⅓ innings of relief by Heath Bell and including these oddities:

• A replay challenge on a pickoff at first that got them out of a bottom-of-the-ninth mess.

• A double play that featured eight throws — seven on dueling rundowns — in the 12th and when written out looked like an overseas phone call waiting to happen: 4-3/3-6-3-4-3-4-5-2.

• A five-man infield that included rightfielder Wil Myers playing first base and getting a putout in the 13th on a ground ball to second that was fielded by actual first baseman Sean Rodriguez and, thus, scored 3-9.

Among other notables:

• It was the third time they scored five or more runs in an extra inning but the first time as late as the 14th.

• It was the fifth time they won a game after blowing two saves and first time since August 2008.

• It was their seventh game with 20 or more hits and first since September 2007.

• They grounded into five double plays, one off the franchise record.

Extra, extra

Rays manager Joe Maddon always says there is something extra special about winning an extra-inning game on the road.

"I think it speaks to the character of the team," Maddon said. "Because when you don't score in the top of an extra inning, there's almost like this impending doom kind of a feeling because all they have to do is score one run and it's their last at-bat. So you have to keep fighting to that next moment until finally you do break through."

Add in you are usually using second-tier relievers and backup position players, and there is also a sense of the entire team contributing.

The Rays have played 48 extra-inning road games under Maddon and are 24-24. (Overall, they are 39-46.)

Maddon said Friday's reminded him of the May 8, 2008, game in Toronto, when Dioner Navarro hit a grand slam in the top of the 13th.

"I had visions of Navi dancing through my head right there," he said. "That was a pretty big win for us."

Keeping time

Friday's game was the second longest by time in Rays history:

TimeOutcomeDate

6:545-4 win in 18 over OriolesSept. 20, 2013

5:4910-5 win in 14 at Yankees Friday

5:441-0 loss in 16 to Red SoxJuly 17, 2011

5:279-8 win in 11 over Red SoxOct. 11, 2008 *

5:2410-8 loss in 14 to Red SoxJune 10, 2013

* Game 2 of ALCS

Playing the field

Friday's game matched the Rays' seventh longest by innings:

Inn.OutcomeDate

185-4 win over OriolesSept. 20, 2013

161-0 loss to Red SoxJuly 17, 2011

169-8 loss to Red SoxApril 1, 2003

154-3 loss to MarlinsJune 16, 2012

154-3 loss at A'sJuly 30, 2012

1510-9 loss to OriolesAug. 4, 2000

1410-5 win at Yankees Friday

1410-8 loss to Red SoxJune 10, 2013

144-3 win over MarinersJuly 20, 2012

143-2 loss at Orioles Sept. 13, 2012

144-2 win at Red SoxSept. 10, 2008

146-5 loss to OriolesApril 19, 2002

144-3 win at MarlinsJune 14, 2002

1413-12 win over TwinsApril 13, 1998

146-5 win over IndiansMay 12, 1998

Short stops

• Commissioner Bud Selig says he plans to visit each of the 30 teams during this season, his last before retiring with 22-plus years on the job. That will be nice if he makes it to the Trop — because it will be only his third visit in the Rays' 17 seasons.

• If Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg wanted to be a wise guy, he would write Selig and ask to be afforded the same exception to MLB rules in rescheduling rainouts the Red Sox and Cubs get because the Trop has a smaller capacity than Fenway Park and Wrigley Field.

• Their contributions to Friday's marathon win aside, out-of-options OF Brandon Guyer and RHP Josh Lueke are used so little — or in such low-leverage situations — it seems some days the Rays are playing with a 23-man roster.

Rays rumblings

LHP David Price joined many athletes in tweeting about the controversy involving Clippers owner Donald Sterling, though, of course, with his own twist: "I want to buy a part of the Clippers!!!! Like 1% or maybe a little less. I would have the best seats ever!!" … Manager Joe Maddon told Jen Royle of bostonherald.com that if the Rays "were able to really secure a legitimate ballpark in the Tampa Bay area that would really permit us to sign some of these guys long term." … OF David DeJesus (right) last week reached his 10-year mark in the majors, and RHP Grant Balfour is approaching his. … INF/OF Sean Rodriguez this week reaches five years of service time, which means even with an option remaining, he can't be sent down without his permission. … Awfulannouncing.com turned its fan polling into a ranking of MLB's TV broadcast teams, and the Rays crew finished 16th. The Giants were No. 1. … Former Rays OF Matt Diaz is doing some hosting for MLB Network Radio.

Got a minute?

Heath Bell

Food you hate?

Tomatoes. I love tomato sauce. I love everything about tomatoes except actual tomatoes.

Must-see TV?

Deadliest Catch or Gold Rush

Best meal you can make?

Anything with a grill. I'd probably say fried rice and tri-tip.

Go-to karaoke song?

It'd something Disney because I'm usually with my kids. Right now, it's Frozen. If I was around adults, a Tim McGraw song.

Celebrity crush?

Lucy Liu

Rays Tales: Two crazy days in May 05/03/14 [Last modified: Saturday, May 3, 2014 9:48pm]

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