BOSTON -- If the Tampa Bay Rays had gotten their way on Wednesday, they would still be alone at the bottom of the American League East.
After trying to negotiate with the league in regard to the rescheduling of Wednesday night's rainout as part of a day-night doubleheader on Thursday, the Rays were upset with the decision to uphold the Red Sox's scheduling choice. Instead of sulking, the Rays responded by taking both games of the doubleheader, their first sweep of a Fenway Park twinbill in franchise history.
"That's our only course of action in these kind of situations," Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist said. As the Rays' acting player representative, Zobrist was among the most vocal about not wanting to play two on Thursday. "We don't really have any pull off the field to make a decision when it comes to being on the road in these other stadiums. It's nice to know that regardless of the situation they put us in, we were able to pull one out."
So was it revenge?
"I'm not going to say that word, but it does feel good," Zobrist said. "I hope everybody enjoyed their bobbleheads."
Indeed, Dustin Pedroia bobblehead day became a hot topic of debate with regard to the rainout's rescheduling. Several Rays players reportedly believed that one reason the Red Sox wanted to play two on Thursday was so they wouldn't have to keep the bobbleheads in storage. The bobbleheads were given out to fans in attendance before Wednesday's afternoon game, which the Red Sox lost 2-1.
"I really believe that we had vociferously fought for just one game for a lot of obvious reasons," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I'm not going to hide from the reasons, of course, we have a lot of guys injured, we had a lot of very difficult games recently so we wanted one game that we could have played when we were at greater health. It just did not work out that way, thus our players came out and made a statement today and they kind of enjoyed it."
Both wins for the Rays were of the comeback variety, as the Red Sox were shut out after the first inning in Game 1 and blew a three-run lead late in Game 2. Rays closer Grant Balfour notched two saves in one day, becoming the first pitcher to do so since Bobby Jenks did it for the Chicago White Sox on Sep. 4, 2010.
"It's freaking awesome to do it in any stadium," Balfour said about his two-save day. "Definitely against a team that we're fighting [against] in our division is huge. Anyone is great, but especially against these guys."
Balfour said that sticking it to the Red Sox wasn't on his mind heading into the doubleheader. In fact, he didn't even know the team was upset about playing two.
"I didn't know we didn't want to play [a doubleheader], no one asked me," Balfour said. "I'm pretty happy that we did." Heading into this series against the Red Sox, the Rays had lost five of their previous six games, including three out of four to the White Sox in Chicago. Now Tampa Bay will head to New York to face the Yankees and look to end a 10-day, 10-game road streak riding the momentum the Rays built on Thursday.
"I'm so proud of the way our guys handled today; nobody complained about anything and they just went out and played really good baseball for 18 innings," Maddon said. "It was pretty astounding to watch the whole thing play out."
Added Maddon, "All I want us to do is go out tomorrow and play another really good game of baseball. We should get some bounce from this event, I would like to believe."