Matt Moore and 7 Signs the Tampa Bay Rays Are a 'Team of Destiny'
If you're wondering whether that crooked "nine" found next to the word "Tampa Bay" on your favorite Internet baseball scoreboard for Game 1 of the ALDS between the Rays and Rangers is a typo, don't worry.
The Rays are on a journey of a baseball lifetime, and here are seven signs that Tampa Bay is a "Team of Destiny."
1. The Triple Play
On Tuesday night while trailing the Yankees 3-2, the Rays turned a triple play, as New York's Russell Martin grounded into a 5-4-3 trifecta to end the sixth after the Yanks had loaded the bases with no outs.
The Rays' Matt Joyce then hit a three-run homer that proved to be the game winner, bringing the Rays ever closer to their date with wild card destiny the following night.
2. The Six-Run Eighth Inning
Trailing 7-0 to the New York Yankees as they entered the home half of the eighth inning, the Tampa Bay Rays were a team on the verge of missing the postseason despite a huge September push as the Boston Red Sox began to fade.
Boston was ahead in its game in Baltimore, 3-2, and with both clubs tied for the AL Wild Card lead as play began that night, it looked very much like the Rays' run was coming to an end.
Then, the miraculous occurred.
A single, double, hit-batter, walk, another hit-batter, a sacrifice fly and a mammoth three-run homer later, the Rays were somehow within a run.
3. Dan Johnson (Hitting .108) Homers to Tie It in the Ninth
Dan Johnson. His batting average entering his pinch-hit appearance with two outs in the ninth inning, with his team trailing 7-6 with a Wild Card berth hanging in the balance, was .108.
With two strikes, Johnson delivered a game-tying home run down the right-field line.
4. The Epic Red Sox Collapse
On September 3 the Boston Red Sox led the American League Wild Card standings by nine games over the Tampa Bay Rays.
On September 28, the Rays were the winners of the AL wild card, headed to Texas to take on the Rangers in Game One of the ALDS.
The Bean Town collapse will go down as one of the greatest in baseball history, and should the Rays win it all, it will make the sting even sharper for Red Sox nation.
5. The Wild Card Walk-off
By now, you know the story. Evan Longoria. A laser down the left-field line.
6. Matt Moore's Gem in 2nd ML Start, Game 1 of ALDS
When you think of a guy making his second-ever big league start, you don't think of it coming in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.
Well, enter Matt Moore.
The rookie left-hander tossed a gem, going seven shutout innings, allowing just two hits while striking out six. And he did it against the Rangers, who posted a .283 team batting average to lead the majors during the regular season.
7. Kelly Shoppach's Two Home Runs to Bury the Rangers in ALDS Game One
Cody Ross, meet Kelly Shoppach.
It seems like the list of improbable postseason heroes just keeps growing, but Shoppach is a name to add to it after Friday night.
In Game 1 of the LDS, Shoppach belted two home runs and drove in five of Tampa Bay's nine en route to the huge victory.