Friday, March 13, 2009

Rays shine vs. Phils

By Chris Umpierre

Tampa Bay-Philadelphia game very different from Series clincher

PORT CHARLOTTE — The last time the Philadelphia Phillies and the Tampa Bay Rays played a meaningful game, almost every player had on a turtleneck. It was Game 5 of the 2008 World Series, and the temperature in Philadelphia was 40 degrees.

"It was bad," Rays third baseman Evan Longoria said of Game 5, which Philadelphia won 4-3 after a 46-hour rain delay to seal the team's first championship since 1980. "I definitely don't want to play in that weather again."

Longoria and his teammates faced Philadelphia in considerably better playing conditions Thursday and got a better result. In 81-degree weather, the Rays beat the Phillies 3-2 in front of 6,927 at Charlotte Sports Park. But the spring training victory did nothing to remove the sting from last year's Fall Classic.

"I think it would be a little different if we came out on the winning end of the World Series," Longoria said. "It's to the point where you don't want to bring up some of those memories because they're bad memories. Losing in the World Series is not fun."

Longoria, 23, was just one Ray who reminisced Thursday about last year's unique Fall Classic.

Players talked about Game 5, which was suspended after the top of the sixth inning due to rain, making it the first game in World Series history not to be played through to completion or declared a tie.

After that 46-hour rain delay, Game 5 was resumed Oct. 29 - two days after it began.

"I swear, I don't even dwell on it," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Hey, it happens. You make the adjustment, and you move on. It was interesting, though."

Maddon said the Phillies were the better team. They had excellent starting pitching and a solid bullpen.

Tampa Bay left-hander David Price, a 23-year-old who pitched the last 21Ú3 innings of Game 2 of last year's World Series, agreed.

"They had some veteran guys, and they just did a lot of things right," Price said.

"We didn't necessarily do anything wrong. There was one game that we didn't have a chance to win and that's it. The other four games we were in it to the end. We had a chance. One swing or one pitch, and we could have been winners."

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