ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. Fernando Rodney's "moonshot" returned to the mound, and the dance party returned to the home clubhouse. Manager Joe Maddon returned to his positive outlook about the uncertain weeks ahead, and the Tampa Bay Rays returned to being winners.
That title has been rare of late, but Thursday night, it fit this group living on the edge well. So often here and on the Rays' skid throughout the West Coast, the postgame scene involving them had resembled a mausoleum. There was silence, awkwardness, a stiff aura that was appropriate for their dwindling lead for the American League's second wild-card spot.
Thursday, following a 4-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox which served as a deep breath as much as anything there was time to let loose a little. Smoke from a postgame celebration hung above the clubhouse carpet. Maddon said, with a straight face, "We're looking forward to playing them again in the playoffs."
For one night, in what seemed like a long time since this l...