The Tampa Bay Rays never seem to do things the easy way.
But, based on recent results, the hard way seems to suit them just fine.
Playing in their 39th game in the past 41 days the Tampa Bay Rays claimed the American League Wild Card title Wednesday night with a 4-0 victory over the Cleveland Indians.
For the second time in three nights the Rays went into a hostile environment faced with a win or go home elimination game only to arise victorious and celebrate on the field while the home team’s fans looked on with sadness.
Of course the showdown in Cleveland was just one of many stops on the Rays’ late season whistle stop tour.
The Rays have been on the road since September 24th, when they opened a three-game series in New York against the Yankees.
The Rays swept the Yankees.
Then it was off to Toronto, where they lost two games to the Blue Jays before winning the regular-season finale to force a one-game tiebreaker with the Texas Rangers.
The Rays beat the Rangers with a complete game pitching effort from David Price in front of a sellout crowd at the Ballpark in Arlington.
The win in Texas earned the Rays a trip to Cleveland where they once again claimed victory and silenced a sellout crowd.
Alex Cobb took the mound for the Rays and allowed no runs on eight hits a walk and five strikeouts to pick up the win.
Despite missing 50 games earlier in the year after getting hit with a line drive and suffering a concussion, Cobb showed no signs of buckling under the pressure created by the sellout crowd of 43,579 rally towel-waving Cleveland fans.
With the Cleveland win the Rays earned another destination and more frequent flier miles.
The Rays will start the American League Division Series against the Boston Red Sox tonight.
The Rays and Red Sox are familiar division foes who were fairly evenly matched during their regular season match ups this year.
Matt Moore will look to continue the strong pitching performances by Rays starters in game one of the best of five series tonight at Fenway Park.
The good news for the Rays is that on October 7 they finally get to return to Tropicana Field for a home game and some changes of clothes.
A home game would also occur in game four of the series if needed before a return trip to Boston in the event of a winner take all game five scenario.
Regardless of what happens in Boston the Rays will get to hoist a 2013 Wild Card Champion banner into the rafters at Tropicana Field.
Of course there is room for a few other banners as well as the team has its sights set on a return trip to the World Series.
Now if you’ll excuse me, there is some American League Division Series baseball to get ready for.
Copyright 2013 R. Anderson