By: Taylor Landau
For the fourth consecutive year, the Tampa Bay Rays clinched a playoff berth after winning their game on Sept. 30 against the Houston Astros. The win secured their place as the third and final wild-card spot in the American League with the Toronto Blue Jays and the Seattle Mariners taking the additional two.
The final score was 7-3 in favor of Tampa Bay. Most runs were scored in the fifth and sixth innings where Ray’s offense scored two and three runs respectively. Rays pitching ace Drew Rasmussen pitched seven solid innings and allowed only two runs.
The Rays made the playoffs in 2019 in the wild card position. They beat out the Oakland Athletics but fell to the Houston Astros in the first round. In 2020, the Rays made it to the playoffs but unfortunately lost in six games to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Last year, the Rays won the American League, but ultimately lost in the first round to the Boston Red Sox.
Rasmussen became a key piece of Ray’s success this year with several stellar pitching performances. He had a perfect game through eight innings earlier this season, and his impressive pitching continued well into the rest of the year.
Tricia Whitaker, the Rays on-field reporter, interviewed several players following the postseason-clinching win, including Rasmussen. When asked about making the playoffs, Rasmussen said, “We’ve had some ups and some downs this season[, but] this is the reason you play the game right here: to get the chance to play in October[…] We couldn’t be happier or overjoyed at the position we’re in.”
Last year, the Rays pitching ace, Tyler Glasnow, was unfortunately sidelined with Tommy John surgery. He was not anticipated to return until 2023 but made a quick and successful recovery just in time to pitch this season in late September.
He spoke to Whitaker after the game as well. He said, “This is what I was working for all season. I’m glad I could finally come back and contribute something instead of just sitting [in the dugout]. It’s nice to contribute, especially at a time when it’s really meaningful.
When asked about the Rays’ success, senior Zach Mitchell said, “It’s really impressive that the Rays have been consistently playing well over the past 4 years despite the controversy over a new stadium. A lot of people tend to forget that the Rays made it to the World Series in 2020, and once again they are back in the playoffs.”
The Rays play at Tropicana Field, which is located in St. Petersburg. It is arguably one of the least popular stadiums in Major League Baseball both among players and fans. There was a years-long debate about moving the team to Montreal, which was eventually canceled. To this day, there is still an ongoing issue regarding the location of the stadium as many fans are begging them to move the team to Tampa.
Concerning Ray’s chances of success in the playoffs, Mitchell said, “Yeah, I think the Rays will do well, but they need to watch out for the Yankees this year for sure.”
The New York Yankees won the American League this season with an impressive record of 99-63. Whoever wins the wild card game will face them in the first round.
Senior Jasmine Liaw shared a similar sentiment. She said, “I think [the Rays] are pretty cool. I’m sure they’re going to do amazing!”
A World Series win by the Rays would be the fourth championship since 2020 for Tampa. The Buccaneers won the Super Bowl in 2021, and the Lightning won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2020 and 2021.
Liaw said, “It would be fun to have another championship in Tampa.”
Mitchell agreed to say, “ Another Championship means another boat parade so, of course, I want another championship in Tampa Bay!
When asked about what the Rays could do in the playoffs, Glasnow simply said, “Win.”
Be sure to tune into the playoffs this year to see if the Rays can bring home another title. The wild card series for the Rays begins on Friday, October 7, at 12:07 pm. Game two will be on Saturday, October 8, at the same time. Game three (if needed) will be on Sunday, October 9, at 4:07.