Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Once Again, the Rays Come Up Short

The joyride ended for the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday. At some point, it always does. The Rays do everything right on the field, squeeze maximum victories from minimal payroll, and then finally fall short.

This season ended for the team the same way it did last year, eliminated at home by the Texas Rangers in the division series. The Rays struck out 12 times in a 4-3 loss in Game 4, punctuated by three homers from Adrian Beltre of Texas. Only six other players, including the Hall of Famers Babe Ruth (twice), Reggie Jackson and George Brett, had ever homered three times in a postseason game.

"Besides my first hit in the big leagues, this is right up there," said Beltre, a 14-year veteran, "just because my team needed every bit of it to win."

In the quiet of the home clubhouse at Tropicana Field, the Rays' owner, Stuart Sternberg, praised his opponent. He started by describing the Rangers' skills on the field. They thump, he said, and their pitchers keep improving.

But there was something else.

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