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July 31, 2008 at 6:11 am ET
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Counting Down To 70…. 63

Another day, another step closer to the record. Our Devil Rays won their fourth series of the year against the Blue Jays by taking the finale 3-2. Fan favorite Eric “Shitske” Hinske scored the winning run in the 4th inning, and our bullpen provided 4 shutout innings of relief. (A bullpen that the drunkest of Jays fans called “fairly shitty,” and which currently leads the Majors in batting average against.) Thus the countdown continues….

The Devil Rays franchise record for victories in a season is set to fall sometime next week. While some would rather pretend the first 10 years of Devil Ray baseball never happened, we here at Bugs & Cranks have always seen them for what they truly were…. A Prelude To Dynasty.

With every win until the record falls, we’ll look back and commemorate the accomplishments and sacrifices of those proud, heroic Devil Rays who made this historic season possible. We continue with a look back at every 63rd win in the history of Devil Ray baseball, and try to determine which was the greatest of all….

63rd Win Immortals: Piniella, Pena, Upton, Sonnanstine, Cantu, Lugo.  (Also pictured, current Devil Ray Eric

September 21, 1998 – Fenway Park. Devil Rays 8, Boston 4. After Boston got lucky and won the first half of a doubleheader to increase their lead in the Wild Card, our Devil Rays dominated the second tilt. Bubba Trammel put the game out of reach with a 3-run homer in the 7th, capping a 2-for-3, 5 RBI night. Devil Rays starter Terrell Wade was making his first big league appearance in over a year, and went 5 strong innings to earn his first and only win as a D-Ray (and the last win of his career). Quinton McCracken also had two hits, giving him 175 for the season and tying the record for most hits in a season on an expansion team. The win guaranteed our Devil Rays wouldn’t lose 100 games — a fate that befell 5 of the previous 12 first-year teams.

September 15, 1999 – Tropicana Field. Devil Rays 8, Mariners 4. In the second, an Alex Rodriguez error led to an unearned run that gave the Devil Rays their second lead of the game. The Mariners tied the game in the 7th, but in the bottom half of the inning Herbert Perry’s homer put the Devil Rays up for good. Miguel Cairo and Dave Martinez both had 3-hit games.

September 24, 2000 – SkyDome. Devil Rays 6, Toronto 0. Rookie Travis Harper earned his first big league win in his 4th start and 5th of what would be 240 appearances on the mound for our Devil Rays. Harper pitched his first complete game and faced just 31 batters, allowing only 2 hits and a walk. Losing pitcher Steve Trachsel was quoted after the game, saying “Harper pitched his a– off.” Our Devil Rays pulled ahead in the 6th on The Crime Dog Fred McGriff’s RBI single, and John Flaherty provided some cushion with a 2-run homer in the 8th. The loss kept the Blue Jays 3.5 back in the Wild Card race with 7 games left.

September 28, 2003 – Tropicana Field. Devil Rays 3, Red Sox 1. Our Devil Rays came from behind, scoring all 3 of their runs in the bottom of the eighth to complete a 2-game sweep of the Red Sox. Carl Crawford stole his 55th base of the year to lead the American League. Aubrey Huff had two hits to finish the year with a .311 average, breaking the Devil Rays record set by Fred McGriff — and an RBI to break McGriff’s Devil Rays RBI mark. Victor Zambrano improved his record to 12-10 on the year, and tied a club record with his 26th victory as a Devil Ray.

September 17, 2004 – SkyDome. Devil Rays 11, Toronto 4. A four-run Devil Ray 5th knocked out Toronto starter Josh “Fawlty” Towers and blew the game open, punctuated by a 2-run Tino Martinez triple. In the 7th, after the Jays had intentionally walked Jose Cruz to get to him, rookie third baseman B.J. Upton extended the lead with a 2-out, 3-run homer. Manager “Captain Lou” Piniella was impressed with Upton’s opposite-field shot: “I didn’t realize he’s as strong as he is, he hit that ball like a young Alex Rodriguez.” (Piniella, of course, managed Rodriguez as a rookie, and encouraged the young slugger by kissing him tenderly on the head and telling him he loved him whenever he failed.) Carl Crawford extended club single-season record for steals (56) and runs scored (95). With the loss, the Blue Jays dropped further into the AL East cellar, 4 games behind our fourth-place Devil Rays.

September 19, 2005 – Tropicana Field. Devil Rays 8, Red Sox 7. Our Devil Rays batted around in the 4th, knocking out Boston starter David Wells and taking a 4-2 lead. In the 6th inning, our Devil Rays retook the lead when Jorge Cantu hit a 2-run blast off rookie reliever Jonathan Papelbon. With the homer, Cantu tied Aubrey Huff’s Devil Rays single-season RBI record. A big moment came in the next half inning, when Jesus Colome came in with David Ortiz on second, and protected a one-run lead by striking out Manny Ramirez and getting Kevin Millar to fly out. Carl Crawford got the last of his 3 hits in the 8th and later scored an important insurance run. D-Rays starter Mark Hendrickson improved his record to 10-7, and tied Viictor Zambrano’s club record with his 6th straight win. Closer Danys Baez came on in the 9th to notch his 38th save of the year. The loss left the defending champion Red Sox clinging to a half-game lead over the Yankees in the AL East. Our Devil Rays improved to 37-25 in the second half, clinching their best ever second half record.

September 16, 2007 – Safeco Field. Devil Rays 9, Seattle 2. El Gato Del Crimen Carlos Pena gave our Devil Rays the lead in the fourth inning with a solo shot off Jarrod “D.W.” Washburn. With the blast, Pena extended his Devil Ray single-season home run record, and became the first Devil Ray with 40 home runs in a season. In addition to EGDC’s home run, our Devil Rays added 6 doubles and 8 singles. Carl Crawford’s 2-run double in the 5th put our D-Rays ahead for good, and Delmon Young later drove in 4 more. Starter Andy Sonnanstine picked up his 6th win by holding Seattle to one run on six hits and two walks, while striking out eight in seven innings.

***

Here’s how I would rank them, though it’s certainly up for debate and I look forward to your always insightful comments:

  1. 2005 Outslugging the Red Sox in a tight pennant race
  2. 2004 Slugging away in Toronto and extended our lead over the Jays
  3. 2007 EGDC Carlos Pena’s 40th homer
  4. 2000 Travis Harper’s complete game 2-hitter at SkyDome
  5. 1998 Bubba Trammel drives in 5 at Fenway.
  6. 2003 Come-from-behind victory over the Sox, Huff breaks two records
  7. 1999 Perry, Cairo and Martinez batter the Mariners

Previously on Counting Down To 70….

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2 Responses to “Counting Down To 70…. 63”
  1. bcapp says:

    I don’t mean to be a hater here, but counting up/down to a 70 win season is like counting down the days until you get laid for the second time, no?

  2. David Chalk says:

    Our Devil Rays team and Devil Rays fans are getting a shitload of pussy this year and that will continue for a long, long time. But it’s important to remember how you got there. This feature is not so much about the accomplishment, but recognizing all those who might otherwise be forgotten who helped get us there and beyond to the promised land.

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