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Sunday, Sep 24, 2017
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No miracle for Rays faithful

ST. PETERSBURG - They turned their hats inside out and backward, clanging their cowbells as loudly as they could. They even did the wave, with the mayor of St. Petersburg an active participant. But in the end it wasn't enough, as the season of comebacks for the Tampa Bay Rays ended with a comeback that fell just short. It resulted in a 4-3 loss to the Texas Rangers on Tuesday in the American League Division Series playoffs. With the loss, the Rays dropped the series 3-1 and were eliminated.
"I say there's always next year," said fan Sharon Stone of Spring Hill, "and we'll get them then. "This is a young team," Stone added. "They're young, but so they're so bright and shiny. They sparkle." It was a team that saw tremendous roster losses in the offseason. It began the season 0-6. The Rays were nine games behind in the playoff chase in early September, and down 7-0 in the last game of the regular season against the New York Yankees — a game they came back and won after five hours and 12 innings. On Tuesday the crowd was on its feet again in the ninth inning, just as it had been against the Yankees last week. When the Rays scored a run to cut the Rangers' lead to one, with Desmond Jennings at the plate as the potential winning run, so many thought a repeat of the Yankee miracle was about to occur again. But it was not to be this time. Fans clapped and cheered for the team as they left the field. "It's incredible what they did to make the postseason," said season-ticket holder Jaime Eagan of St. Petersburg. "It showed heart, grit and determination. "They play fun baseball," Eagan said. "They seem like a very cohesive unit that enjoys playing with one another." Fans showed up in droves for the game Tuesday, which began at 2 p.m. That meant that many parents who had purchased tickets for their kids to attend what they thought would be an evening game pulled their children out of school early. Others came down with sudden coughs and colds and missed school all together. Logan Zorrilla, 11, of Riverview, left school early to be at the game. "We signed him out early," his father, Tony Zorrilla, said. "He's pretty excited." Teachers at Stowers Elementary were jealous. "They wanted to come instead of him," Tony Zorrilla said. The good news for Rays fans is that spring training is just around the corner in March. "What do you think – 162-0 next year?" a stadium food worker said as he cleaned up after the game this evening. "I like it."

rshaw@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7999
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