Game 162 is becoming an annual mix of drama, excitement and emotion for the Tampa Bay Rays.
After overcoming a seven-run deficit in the final game of the 2011 regular season to advance to the playoffs, it was hard to imagine that the final game of the 2012 campaign would be nearly as memorable.
Then the game started and delivered a level of drama, excitement and emotion to hold its own in the memories of Rays players, coaches and fans.
That's not how a game without postseason implications—some would call it meaningless—normally would be described, but it is very illustrative of the Rays' 4-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.
The Rays didn't advance to the postseason or cap off a historical comeback with Wednesday night’s win, but they provided memories that the team and its fans will remember for years.
After the game, Rays’ manager Joe Maddon talked about the emotion of the game.
It was a very dramatic game tonight. How everything unfolded, including the opportunity to have BJ [Upton] pinch run for and then Fernando [Rodney], I was not going to use because I did not want to jeopardize the record that he has right now unless it was absolutely the right thing to do, and it was. … I like the idea of playing the last game of the season with that kind of effort.
It was a good game played with good effort, but the Rays ultimately finished three games out of the wild card.
Maddon also reflected on the season and the team’s continued effort until the end.
Sometimes you aren’t good enough. We are good enough this year; we just didn’t win enough games. It is unfortunate but never the less I am proud of the way we have handled these last 14 games. Winning 12 out of the last 14 games is pretty impressive against the opposition also. Of course it will be tough to go home with nothing to do tomorrow regarding playing a game of baseball.
Here are three of the most memorable and emotional moments from Game 162, part deux.