Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Rays recapture some of last season's magic with team-record rally from seven-run deficit

ST. PETERSBURG — Before B.J. Upton came to bat in the ninth inning Friday night, veteran closer Troy Percival shared a few words:

"Let's play Rays baseball," he told Upton. "Just keep scrapping like we did all game."

For the second straight night, the Rays had to dig themselves out of a huge hole. This time, they overcame a seven-run deficit and made history doing it.

The fans chanted "B.J. Upton!" as the struggling leadoff hitter came to bat in a tie game, and Upton had them on their feet after a walkoff homer to left on a 3-and-2 pitch, lifting the Rays to an improbable 8-7 win over the Indians in front of 25,827 at Tropicana Field.

"It felt a lot like last year," Ben Zobrist said. "That's something we want to continue. I don't know now many games like that we won last year, to have that feeling again, I think that's a huge confidence builder."

It was the largest deficit the Rays (17-20) have overcome in a victory in the club's 12-season history, having won after trailing by six five times (including once in their World Series run last season).

Yes, for one night, 2009 > 2008.

And the Rays hope that the win can help them recapture the familiar magic — and fight — they have yet to show consistently so far this season.

"It was huge, huge," catcher Dioner Navarro said. "It says a lot about us. It says a lot about this team. Maybe this is a wake-up call? Maybe this is the win that we needed to start rolling."

The comeback began in the fourth, after starter Scott Kazmir was pulled from a start in which he gave up seven runs on 10 hits (the second-highest total of his career). J.P Howell said that a few of the relievers in the bullpen were saying in the early innings, "We need a walkoff or something," he said. "And there it was."

The Rays started to show some life in the bottom of the fourth with a three-run rally that symbolized the night's comeback (manufacturing runs, grinding out at-bats and doing the little things right).

Upton led off with a double, stole third and scored on a single by Carlos Peña. Evan Lon­goria then hustled to score on the same play, thanks to a throwing error by rightfielder Shin-Soo Choo. Willy Aybar added an RBI single as well.

In the eighth, Zobrist ripped a solo homer to tie the score (his 11th homer in his past 33 games) to set up Upton's heroics.

"Right place, right time," Zobrist said.

But the relievers were also heroes. The group has been overburdened lately, but stepped up. There was long reliever Lance Cormier, whom manager Joe Maddon has labeled the bullpen MVP for racking up innings. There was Percival, who threw a scoreless inning, and Dan Wheeler, who escaped a ninth-inning jam (two on, two outs).

Percival led a group, including J.P. Howell, Kazmir and Cormier back into the dugout in the ninth inning, to "show them this is a team thing — we have to feel it."

Zobrist said they felt it in the dugout when Upton came to bat.

"You're thinking, 'This is it, we're going to win it,' " he said. "I could already see the ball go into the stands. And then, right there, 3-2 (count), he does it."

Said Maddon: "You just have to keep believing, for those with short memories. Our guys have a lot of heart."

Comeback kids

The Rays' 8-7 come-from-behind victory Friday was the largest in team history (seven runs). Their previous best was digging out of a six-run hole, which they've done five times.

5/15/2009 vs. Indians (trailed 7-0, won 8-7)

9/24/2008 at Orioles (trailed 6-0, won 11-6)

4/07/2006 at Blue Jays (trailed 6-0, won 9-7)

4/08/2003 vs. Orioles (trailed 6-0, won 8-7)

8/22/2001 vs. Orioles (trailed 7-1, won 11-10)

4/13/1998 vs. Twins (trailed 6-0, won 13-12)

Rays 8

Indians 7

XX innings

Tampa Bay Rays recapture some of last season's magic with team-record rally from seven-run deficit 05/15/09 [Last modified: Saturday, May 16, 2009 12:42am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays power way to 5-1 win over Orioles on eve of crucial road trip

    The Heater

    St. PETERSBURG — The Rays didn't get many hits in the early going Wednesday, but they got a couple that went a long way and that was enough to beat the Orioles, 5-1.

    Rays right fielder Steven Souza Jr. (20) hugs catcher Jesus Sucre (45) after Souza's solo home run in the seventh inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  2. 'That's not me': Jaguars' Dante Fowler apologizes for arrest

    Blogs

    Former Lakewood High and Gators star Dante Fowler, now a defensive end with the Jacksonville Jaguars, spoke Wednesday for the first time since his arrest in St. Petersburg last week, apologizing to his team and fans.

    Dante Fowler faces misdemeanor charges of simple battery and criminal mischief from his arrest, and entered a written plea of "not guilty" on Tuesday.
  3. Bucs' Josh Huff has DUI citation dismissed, attorney says

    Blogs

    Bucs receiver Josh Huff continues to resolve the legal issues that cost him a job with the Eagles last year, as the DUI citation against him was dismissed Tuesday, according to his attorney.

    Bucs receiver Josh Huff makes a first-down catch against the Saints, one of three games he played in for Tampa Bay last season.
  4. HomeTeam 100: Players 21-30

    Footballpreps

    TAMPA - Jesuit linebacker Anthony Nelson will help lead the Tigers into the 2017 season. Taken 5-17-17 by Scott Purks
  5. For starters: Cobb on the hill against Orioles

    Blogs

     

    Alex Cobb takes the mound, hoping to duplicate his performance from Friday when he was three outs away from pitching a complete game.