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Tampa Bay Rays savor Game 162 anniversary

CHICAGO — The Rays are trying as much as they can to stay in the present. But today's one-year anniversary of their Game 162 dramatics gave them cause to pause and reflect.

"It's a special day," 3B Evan Longoria said. "And it's going to be a special day for the rest of my life."

Certainly for Longoria, who hit the game-ending, wild-card-clinching 12th-inning homer that capped the comeback from the 7-0 eighth-inning deficit against the Yankees.

"It's such a hard day to really pinpoint one moment," he said. "I would say crossing home plate and just seeing the pure joy in the rest of my teammates' faces and kind of the 'unbelievableness' of the whole situation, if that's a word. Kind of the shock and awe factor of everyone's faces."

For manager Joe Maddon, the lasting memory is the emotional swings as the Rays fell behind and rallied, and the Red Sox took a lead and gave it up. "Within minutes you go from losing to winning to celebrating," he said. "It was really the most unusual baseball day I ever had. And the best in a lot of ways."

For others, it just was.

"We were out. We were done. And somehow we found a way to win," OF Desmond Jennings said. "It was crazy."

MEDICAL MATTERS: C Jose Molina said his strained right quad felt "a little bit better" but not well enough to return to action. He did not know when he would be ready. Molina planned to test it by running and simulating catching movements, but he said the chilly weather (60 degrees at game time) was a concern. The plan is to first have him available for short stints late in games.

CAREER OBJECTIVE: Bench coach Dave Martinez said he had no hard feelings after being a finalist but not the final choice for the Astros managerial job, which went to Nationals third-base coach Bo Porter.

Martinez, who was interviewed twice by Houston officials, got the word as the Rays were leaving Fenway Park late Wednesday. Though unsuccessful in interviews with the Indians, Blue Jays and Astros, Martinez said he is not discouraged.

"I know it's part of the job," he said. "Eventually I want to manage. If it was sooner, great. But just because I didn't get the Houston job doesn't mean I don't feel like I can manage. I know one day I'm going to manage, and when that opportunity arises it's going to be the right fit and everybody's going to be happy."

HELLY-NATION: RHP Jeremy Hellickson has pitched in 68 big-league games over two-plus seasons, but tonight will be his first against the White Sox.

The unfamiliarity, he said, can go both ways. "It's probably to both of our advantages," he said. "We've faced them four-five times, I've seen them play, I know what kind of guys they've got; that's a very good lineup. I've just got to go out there and do what I do."

Hellickson will have plenty of support, as 40 friends and relatives plan to make the six-hour drive from his native Des Moines, Iowa.

MISCELLANY: RHP Fernando Rodney broke Rafael Soriano's 2010 team record with his 46th save and lowered his ERA to 0.62. … Maddon won his 600th game, including 19 as interim manager of the Angels. … C Jose Lobaton got his second straight start in Molina's absence. … OF Sam Fuld walked as a pinch-hitter and felt good enough to stay in and run, his first action since straining his right hamstring Sept. 16. … An apparent second-inning run for the Rays was erased when the other umpires overruled 1B umpire Chad Fairchild's balk call with runners on first and third. … Rays pitchers Wednesday reached double digits in strikeouts for the 58th time, breaking the 2003 Cubs record.

Tampa Bay Rays savor Game 162 anniversary 09/28/12 [Last modified: Friday, September 28, 2012 1:46am]
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