TAMPA BAY RAYS IN THE POSTSEASON
Originally known as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, the Rays began their existence in 1998 when they joined the Arizona Diamondbacks as the two newest expansion teams in Major League Baseball. Unfortunately for the Rays, they joined one of the most competitive divisions in the American League in the East, consisting of longtime powerhouses like the Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees, the latter of whom were enjoying one of their best stretches in decades by the time the Rays arrived. After hitting and missing with a variety of high-profile free agent deals and cycling through various managers, the Rays had finally accumulated enough high draft picks by the late 2000s to make a serious run in the postseason.
In 2006, the Tampa Bay Rays hired manager Joe Maddon, who took over a team that had never won more than 70 games in a season and had only finished above last place once in its history. After two lackluster years at the helm, the Rays' 2008 season signaled major changes for the club. In addition to dropping the 'Devil' from their name, the Rays unveiled new uniforms and hoped to revamp their image.
The 2008 team proved to be one of the most amazing stories in modern baseball history with a roster packed with talented young players like third baseman Evan Longoria and pitcher David Price, as well as savvy veterans like pitchers Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett and clutch closer Troy Percival. The Rays rode the strength of their pitching staff to a 90-win season and made quick work of the Chicago White Sox in the divisional round of the playoffs. The Rays shocked the baseball world in the American League Championship series by knocking off the defending champion Boston Red Sox in seven games, but would fall short in the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies in five games.
The Rays would make two more playoff appearances in 2010 and 2011, but each time they would be thwarted by the Texas Rangers in the American League Divisional Series as they went to back-to-back World Series. Although they still play in one of the toughest divisions in all of Major League Baseball, the Rays have emerged as one of the major contenders for the AL pennant and have a thoroughly stacked farm system and talented lineup that's expected to contend for the AL pennant for the foreseeable future.
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