Brousseau’s moment high on Rays’ memories

by Gary Shelton on October 19, 2020

in general

Brosseau made himself a memory./JEFFREY S. KING

Monday, 4 a.m.

Some teams measure their seasons in championships. Some measure them in Hall of Fame players.

This one measures itself in moments.

And, for right now, that seems like plenty.

No, the Tampa Bay Rays are not rich in acomplishments. They've played in only one World Series so far ... and lost. They've had one no-hitter. They have one Hall of Fame player. Heck, some teams have more championship seasons than the Rays have seasons (23).

But moments that will bring you to the edge of your seats?

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Yeah, the Rays have those. And they're sweeter than the banners in left field. They're nicer than the six trips to the post-season.

So, now that we think it is a fine idea to vote for Mike Brousseau for mayor, it needs to be asked" Where, of all the moments of them all, does Brousseau's game-winning homer against head-hunter Ardolis Chapman rank? When you are telling stories of Tampa Bay's nicest photographs, where does this one rank?

Well, high. Naturally.

There have been other moments. Manuel Margot's over-the-railing catch. Charlie Morton's latest high-noon duel. Randy Arozarena's entire post-season.

But if you measure them as singular moments, as snapshots worth remembering, there are still plenty.

One man's list of the 10 biggest moments in Rays' history.

  1. Evan Longoria, 2011: No swing of the bat was ever as sweet as Longoria's walk-off home run the 12th inning against the New York Yankees for an 8-7 victory. It was a day that was going all wrong for Tampa Bay. Boston led Baltimore going into the ninth, and the Rays trailed New York 7-0. But the Rays climbed back into the game, and the Red Sox blew their lead. Then Longoria hit a line shot over the left field wall. Tampa Bay still loves the guy for that.

2. Matt Garza, 2008: The Rays were reeling in their playoff series against Boston. They had led 3-1, and they had a 7-0 lead in Game Five. Then they lost Game Six 4-2. But on Oct. 19, Matt Garza pitched his team to a 3-1 win, allowing only three hits in a 3-1 victory. David Price, in his rookie year, got the save. It propelled the Rays to (as yet) their only World Series.

3. Mike Brousseau, 2020: You want drama? You want a plucky overachiever against a rich and famous reliever who had thrown at his head? Brousseau's homer, after a 10-pitch at-bat, gave the Rays' life.

4. Dan Johnson, 2011: Say what you want about Longoria's heroics, but they wouldn't have been possible without the Great Pumpkin, who had tied the game with a homer on a two-out, two-strike pitch in the bottom of the ninth. Johnson didn't have a lot of hits for the Rays, but he kept coming up with big ones.

5. Matt Garza, 2010: Garza, a temperamental pitcher, finally tamed his soul and threw the only no-hitter in the history of the franchise on Sept. 26, 2010. He allowed only one walk the entire game. Garza would win only four more games for the Rays, but he made this night memorable.

6. Wade Boggs, 1999: Boggs had been criticized for not hitting more home runs in his career, but to get to 3,000 hits, he launched a homer into the right field bleachers. He milked it as he ran around the bases, pointing, looking skyward, kissing home plate. But in the Rays' second season, they had themselves a keeper moment.

7. James Shields, 2008: Only one Rays pitcher has ever won a World Series game. It was Shields, who delivered a 4-2 win. Shields went 5 2/3 innings and was relieved by Price. The Rays would lose their next three World Series games.

8. Dan Johnson, 2011: Johnson makes the list twice. This shot came in 2011, when he arrived at Fenway Park late and launched a game-tying home run in the bottom of the ninth. The Red Sox could have claimed the AL East lead that night. Instead, they would never overtake the Rays.

9. Carlos Pena, 2008: The Red Sox were trying to overtake the Rays in September. But on Sept. 10, in the top of the 14th inning, Pena launched a three-run homer to lead a 4-2 victory. The win put the Rays up by 2 1/2 games.

10. Carl Crawford, 2009: Crawford was playing in the all-star game in St. Louis when he climbed the left-field wall to catch a ball hit by Brad Hawpe.He became the first Ray to be MVP of the all-star game. "It's definitely probably my best catch I've ever made," Crawford said. "I didn't think it was going to carry that far. But it carried and I just tried to find the wall and was able to jump up and make a play on it."

Just a thought. Baseball isn't over yet. The Rays still have to win four more games.

Plenty of time for someone else to crack the list.

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