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Tampa Bay Rays differ on lessons from 2011 comeback

Published Sep. 15, 2012

NEW YORK

As the Rays navigate the final weeks of this wicked rollercoaster of a season, they would seem to have a legit benefit of drawing on what happened last September, when they had a longer way to go and a shorter time to get there.

But here's a question:

Is that experience a comfort, from which they can draw confidence, or a crutch, which they may lean on for false hope?

Some say they don't reference it much, or at all, that it's a different year, different group, different circumstance.

"Completely different," right-hander James Shields said.

Others say they can use it to their advantage, that knowing they did it once gives them reason to believe they can do it again.

"That's a decent way to look at it," centerfielder B.J. Upton said. "We saw what happened last year and I think that in itself kind of gives us a little bit of confidence."

Added third baseman/DH Evan Longoria: "I think I'm sure that in passing in a lot of guys' minds that that thought is in there, so in more ways than not it helps because that's a positive thought."

So does that mean they take the same approach as 2011, when they closed a gap of nine games in 23 days, then beat out the Red Sox for the wild-card spot on the final night of the season.

"Last year, we were so far behind so late in the year that it was kind of like we were more concerned with going out and winning," Longoria said. "We weren't even looking at the scoreboard and the standings and then it crept up on us."

This year they don't — yet, anyway — have the same approach, Shields acknowledged.

"Last year we kind of had to win every single game," he said. "And right now we're just trying to win series."