Since playing their first game as a Major League franchise in 1998, the Tampa Bay Rays struggled through nine last-place finishes before emerging as a contender in 2008.
The Rays completely reversed their 2007 last-place performance to earn the American League East Division championship in 2008. Tampa Bay refused to let their first postseason appearance go to waste, earning victories in Games One, Two, and Four in the American League Division Series to eliminate the Chicago White Sox and advance to the American League Championship Series.
Tampa Bay faced the American League Wild Card Boston Red Sox in the 2008 ALCS. The Rays earned home field advantage by finishing ahead of the Red Sox in the regular season. The Rays dropped Game One of the series but bounced back to win Game Two in extra innings.
The Rays earned victories on the road in Games Three and Four, but lost Game Five by one run and Game Six by two runs, forcing a Game Seven. Playing at Tropicana Field, Tampa Bay overcame an early deficit to win 3-1 and claim their first American League pennant.
The Tampa Bay Rays advanced to their first World Series to face the National League champions, the Philadelphia Phillies. The Rays lost a heartbreaking Game One by a score of 3-2, but responded with a 4-2 victory in Game Two to even the 2008 World Series at one game apiece. Despite solid performances, the Rays lost the next three games, including two one-run losses.
Tampa Bay’s defeat by the Phillies left the Rays’ fan base disappointed but encouraged. However, the Rays failed to reach the postseason in 2009, finishing third in the AL East.
Tampa Bay has returned to championship form for the 2010 season, winning the second American League East Division championship in franchise history. The Rays will host the West Division champion Texas Rangers to open the 2010 ALDS.
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tampa_Bay_Rays “Tampa Bay Rays” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
http://www.baseball-reference.com/postseason/2008_ALCS.shtml “2008 League Championship Series ‘” Tampa Bay Rays over Boston Red Sox (4-3)” Baseball-reference.com. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
http://www.baseball-reference.com/postseason/2008_ALDS2.shtml “2008 League Division Series ‘” Tampa Bay Rays over Chicago White Sox (4-1)” Baseball-reference.com. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
http://www.baseball-reference.com/postseason/2008_WS.shtml “2008 World Series ‘” Philadelphia Phillies over Tampa Bay Rays (4-1)” Baseball-reference.com. Retrieved October 3, 2010.