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MLB Playoffs 2011: What Tampa Bay Rays' Blowout of Texas Rangers Means for ALDS

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 30:  Kelly Shoppach #10 of the Tampa Bay Rays hits a two-run home run in the fifth inning against the Texas Rangers during Game One of the American League Division Series at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on September 30, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Manny RandhawaCorrespondent IIISeptember 30, 2011

Never underestimate the monumental power of momentum.

The Tampa Bay Rays, just two weeks ago more than a longshot to even make the postseason, have just completed a 9-0 drubbing of the Texas Rangers in Arlington during Game 1 of the 2011 American League Division Series.

What does it mean for the remaining games in the best-of-five series?

The Rays might just sweep away the defending American League champs. That's how convincing their victory was on Friday night, and Tampa Bay could be the team to beat this postseason.

That's right, Yankees and Phillies, the team to beat. Why? Because the Rays are playing like there's no way they can lose even if they tried.

The victory over Texas in Game 1 is Tampa Bay's sixth straight, counting the final five regular season games.

Since the eighth inning of their thrilling come-from-behind victory over the Yankees to claim the AL wild card spot on the final day of the regular season, the Rays have scored 16 runs. That's 16 runs in 15 innings of baseball.

Over that span they've amassed 18 hits. And Rays pitching? The staff hasn't allowed a single run in those 15 innings and has only yielded just four hits.

The Rays are a force to be reckoned with, and it's not because they have a great-hitting lineup or because they can absolutely blow you away with their arms.

It's because the Rays feel invincible since their epic comeback Wednesday night. When there was no hope, with Boston leading in its game at Baltimore and Tampa Bay trailing 7-0 against the AL East champion Yankees, everything changed in a matter of minutes.

And the Rays suddenly found themselves in the postseason promised land, where they are taking nothing for granted and just enjoying the ride, much like the 2010 San Francisco Giants.

Those Giants were a team that squeaked into the playoffs on the final day of the regular season as well and were heavy underdogs, especially in the NLCS when they faced the Phillies and in the World Series where they faced the Rangers.

But the World Series trophy was won by the Giants, the club's first since moving to San Francisco in 1958.

The Giants proved that the team to fear is the team flying high with confidence, and this October, that team is the Rays.

A World Series at Tropicana Field? After Friday night's ALDS Game 1 victory, that's not a farfetched notion.

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