Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Daryl Van Schouwen and Chris De Luca

Rays in familiar playoff chase

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Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon believes his team has been in the playoffs for the last two weeks. It's a mindset looking at how the team has to play to actually secure the second league wild card, and it is one his team has had to follow for the last three seasons.
``We're in the playoffs already with the way the teams are competing,'' he said Saturday as the Rays prepared to face the White Sox, who are chasing the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central. ``Winning eight out of the last nine this time of year speaks to the character of our players. We've come a long way in a short period of time. We have to continue to control the moment and believe in the group. Don't give up now boys.''
The Rays entered Saturday's game in the precarious position of trailing two teams for the second wild card spot. They were three games behind the Oakland Athletics and two behind the Los Angeles Angels with five games remaining. The Sox were in a seemingly better position, trailing only the Tigers by one game with five to play.
But experience has taught Maddon that the race isn't over until the last out, something his team proved again last season when a six-run eighth inning cut a Yankees lead to 7-6, a tying run in the ninth and then a winning run in the 12th put the Rays into the playoffs.
The Rays also won the American League pennant in 2008--with the Sox a victim along the playoff way.
``Having gone through it, even as a bench coach with the Angels all the way through the World Series, I don't know if it has actually helped, but I think it's helped me feel better prepared mentally,'' he said. ``But it's not like holding your own baby.''
The Rays have lost only two games by more than two runs since Aug. 4, a testament to their major league-best pitching staff (3.23 ERA), but their playoff hopes are nearing life support status. But the daily quote posted by bullpen coach Stan Borowski Saturday mirrored the Rays' ever-positive outlook: ``Every man dies. Not every man really lives.'' The quote was from Sir William Wallace, who led the Scottish independence movement in the 13th century and whose life was depicted in the movie ``Braveheart.''
Maddon had his own motto: ``never be afraid to lose,'' he said. ``You never win if you're afraid to lose.''

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This page contains a single entry by Toni Ginnetti published on September 29, 2012 2:35 PM.

Sox win 3-1 to move within game of Tigers was the previous entry in this blog.

White Sox lose 10-4, fall 2 games behind Tigers is the next entry in this blog.

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