On Wednesday, the chatter around the Rays was whether they had hit a new low after losing to the A's despite allowing only one hit. Two days later, the conversation, and the vibe, were totally different after their first two walkoff wins of the season, which were followed by a third one Saturday.
"That's more like us," Rays manager Joe Maddon said Friday night.
They've had 133 walkoff wins in franchise history. Their 61 in their seven seasons of the Rays era are the most in the majors (one more than the Reds) over that span. The list of game-ending — and party-starting — plays includes an inside-the-park homer and an unusual obstruction call. And the degree of significance starts with Evan Longoria's wild-card-winning homer in 2011's Game 162, one of 47 games they've won on home runs.
Here's a breakdown of their walkoffs:
You need to hear only two words — Bobby Thomson — to properly process Evan Longoria's 2011 Game 162 homer that capped a comeback from a 7-0 deficit to beat the Yankees 8-7. That's because Longoria became just the second player in major-league history to hit a walkoff homer that clinched a postseason berth in his team's final regular-season game. The first to do it was Thomson with his "Shot Heard 'Round the World" that allowed the Giants to clinch the NL pennant. The Rays won a wild-card spot.
Evan Longoria's 2011 Game 162 homer was obviously for higher stakes, but at the time, Randy Winn's May 11, 2002, homer seemed like a big deal — a three-run blast with two outs in the ninth that mercifully ended a team-record 15-game losing streak with a 6-4 win over Baltimore. It was the longest losing streak in MLB history to end on a walkoff homer.
Most unlikely walker-offer
INF Cole Figueroa would be up there, given that his game-winning double in the ninth against the Red Sox on Friday came in his fourth major-league game and eighth at-bat. OF Jason Bourgeois had only three hits in two weeks with the Rays last August, but he made the first one memorable with a ninth-inning single to beat Seattle. 1B Brandon Allen made quite an introduction with a walkoff homer in his first official at-bat on April 26, 2012, the day after drawing a bases-loaded walk that led to a win. But our choice may be OF Nathan Haynes, who delivered an 11th-inning single to beat Boston on April 25, 2008, delivering the first of the Rays' 11 walkoff wins and pushing them above .500 to stay en route to the AL East title. Also, Haynes was designated for assignment two weeks later, and that was his last big-league hit.
Most odd ending
The Rays were just trying to win the Aug. 6, 2004, game vs. Seattle, not make history, but they did both. Carl Crawford was in position to tag up from third (though he was bluffing) when the umpires called obstruction on Mariners SS Jose Lopez for obstructing Crawford's view of the fly ball being caught in leftfield and awarded him home. "I was wondering what was going on," Crawford said then.
In addition to four bases-loaded walks, three sacrifice flies, a few fielder's choice grounders and some traditional fielding errors, there have been other unusual endings. Among them:
• Wild pitch, by Fernando Rodney to Felipe Lopez, Matt Joyce scores to beat the Angels on April 30, 2011
• Inside-the-park homer, by Rey Sanchez in 10th inning to beat the Rockies on June 11, 2004
• Hit by pitch, John Flaherty by Scott Service, Dave Martinez scores to beat the Royals on Aug. 20, 1999
• Errant pickoff, by Brandon Lyon to second base in 11th, Rocco Baldelli scores to beat the Red Sox on July 1, 2003
In a pinch
Cole Figueroa's Friday double vs. Boston was the 14th time a pinch-hitter was involved in the Rays getting a walkoff win. Most memorable are the five pinch-hit home runs:
Bubba Trammell vs. Angels, April 22, 2000; Eduardo Perez vs. Red Sox, April 22, 2005; B.J. Upton vs. Blue Jays, Sept. 8, 2007; Brandon Allen vs. Angels, April 26, 2012; James Loney vs. Orioles, Sept. 23, 2013
Quite the introductions
Four players whose first hits as Rays were walkoff winners:
Joel Guzman, Aug. 19, 2007, 12th-inning single vs. Indians
Nick Green, April 8, 2005, 10th-inning single vs. A's
Brandon Allen, April 26, 2012, 9th-inning two-run homer vs. Angels
Jason Bourgeois, Aug. 14, 2013, 9th-inning single vs. Mariners
What took ya so long?
This year, Thursday's walkoff win was the latest in a season — May 22 —for the Rays' first walkoff since 2004, when the first came June 11. When they got No. 2 on Friday, it was the first time they walked off in consecutive games since 2009, and the fifth overall. In contrast, the Rays started 2003, and the Lou Piniella era, in style when Carl Crawford hit a three-run walkoff homer to beat Boston on opening day.
Cole Figueroa's double on Friday vs. Boston produced the Rays' second 1-0 walkoff win. The other came Sept. 13, 2010, when Reid Brignac homered in the 11th inning to beat the Yankees.
Rays with the most walkoff hits:
Evan Longoria 7
Carl Crawford 6
B.J. Upton 6
Ben Zobrist 4
Teams the Rays have walked off against the most:
Blue Jays 16
Red Sox 16
PITCH-OFFS: Among the pitchers the Rays have walked off against are Curt Schilling, Mariano Rivera (twice) and, most often, B.J. Ryan, four times.
The Rays have two walkoff wins in the postseason:
2008, ALCS Game 2, 9-8 over Red Sox, Fernando Perez scoring on B.J. Upton's sac fly in 11th to even series at 1.
2013, ALDS Game 3, 5-4 win over Red Sox, Jose Lobaton homering off Koji Uehara with 2 outs in 9th to extend series.
The Rays' way
Since shedding the "Devil" after 2007, the Rays lead MLB in walkoff wins:
• It's early, but if we were picking the Rays' All-Star reps at this point, the top three might be 1B James Loney, LHP Jake McGee and — how stunning would this be? — LHP Erik Bedard.
• RHP Grant Balfour may not like the "vibe" created by being booed at home, but having just blown another save and sporting a 5.89 ERA with 18 walks in 181/3 innings, he should have other things to be concerned about.
• We've addressed some of the reasons for the Rays playing the longest games in the majors (hitters seeing a lot of pitches, pitchers working slowly, the number of potential and actual replay challenges), but how did they take nearly 31/2 hours Friday to play a 1-0 game?
LHP Erik Bedard's contract included a consent waiver allowing the Rays to send him back to the minors within his first 45 days, a period that ends Wednesday, but his strong performance would seem to make it moot. … Fangraphs' Dave Cameron says an aging Ben Zobrist has been replaced as the game's "most underrated player" by Twins 2B Brian Dozier. … The tentative opening date for Joe Maddon's Ava restaurant in South Tampa is Sept. 18. … SI.com's mock draft has the Rays taking Texas Christian LHP Brandon Finnegan with the No. 20 pick in the June 5 draft; mlb.com has them on Wichita State 1B Casey Gillaspie. … In a redo of the 2004 draft, ESPN's Keith Law has the Rays using the No. 4 pick on Zobrist, who went 184th. The Rays took Jeff Niemann.
Got a minute? | Erik Bedard
Best meal you can make? I do a very good chicken cutlet in the oven with barbecue sauce, Buffalo hot sauce, Montreal steak spice, some other things.
Must-see TV? Sons of Anarchy. Big fan.
Hidden talent? I speak fluent French. That's all I speak at home (in Ottawa).
Go-to karaoke song?
I am extremely horrible with remembering lyrics. I couldn't think of a song that I'd know the lyrics to sing.