ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The rout was on when the chants rained down at the Trop. "Re-Play! Re-Play! Re-Play!" the faithful cried. It was hopeless, of course. There was still baseball to be played in Game 2 of the Division Series between the Rays and the Rangers, but even by then, with their lifeless team down 5-0 in the fifth inning, everyone in the ballpark, deep down, had to know: the game -- and probably the series -- was over.
"That was the turning point," said
There were more chants in the late innings, chants from the lower outfield seats for
But it was impossible not to. The Rays' 6-0 loss to the Rangers did feel like the end of something, perhaps the end of the Rays as we know them. Crawford,
For now, though, it doesn't need to be said that the Rays have a Texas-sized challenge in front of them. (Only the 2001 Yankees have ever come back from an 0-2 hole in the Division Series after losing the first two at home.) The Tampa offense has been streaky all season, and they picked a very bad time to go ice cold. Over their last 10 games, going back to the regular season, the Rays have scored a total of 17 runs, and have been shut out four times. "You can go back to September, we just haven't been playing well," says Crawford. "It just really seems like that last week of the season is carrying over."
The Rangers, meanwhile, are firing on all cylinders. A day after
As the series shifts to Texas, no Ray will be under more scrutiny, and perhaps more pressure, than Tampa's maverick skipper. Maddon has been scrutinized for starting
Asked a few hours before Thursday's game to defend his choice of Shields, Maddon stared through his
Maddon was later asked why his Game 2 lineup hadn't yet been posted. "We're waiting on the computer right now," said the numbers savvy-maverick who has used 131 different batting orders in 164 games. "We've got a few more things to think about."
You don't need a computer to tell you that Maddon and the Rays are in trouble. "Win 2 in Texas. Let's Go!" someone wrote on a marker board in the Rays clubhouse after the game. Against these Rangers, easier said than done.