The Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks entered the Major League Baseball world together, but one thing seems certain. After the 1995 expansion, then the beginning of each franchise three seasons later, they were separated at birth.
One plays near a beach. The other plays in a desert.
Meanwhile, the Rays wandered through their own desert for 10 seasons before earning respectability, capturing the American League pennant, reaching the World Series and establishing themselves as a perennial contender.
The Diamondbacks saw immediate returns, winning 100 games and reaching the postseason in their second year, capturing the World Series title in their fourth year, then seeing results level off and hit rock bottom before returning to National League contender status.
Now in their 16th seasons, the Rays and Diamondbacks meet tonight in Phoenix for a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it, two-game interleague series that follows two games last week at Tropicana Field. Truthfully, even though they will always be linked, there’s not much in common.
But each franchise has enjoyed the highs, endured the lows and made a significant impact in the MLB ranks.
What stands out? Let’s explore.
This is debatable, but we’ll go with Game 162 from the 2011 season. Coming into the night tied for the final American League wild-card spot with the Boston Red Sox, the Rays needed to win. And they rallied from a 7-0 deficit, getting a game-tying, two-strike, two-out, ninth-inning homer from Dan Johnson, then a 12th-inning game winner from Evan Longoria to prevail 8-7. It’s a tough call over the final out of the 2008 American League Championship Series, when 2B Akinori Iwamura made the unassisted final out to eliminate the Red Sox and clinch a spot in the World Series.
This is not debatable. The Diamondbacks and New York Yankees tangled in a riveting World Series for 2001. In the ninth inning, against Mariano Rivera, perhaps the best relief pitcher of all-time, Arizona’s Luis Gonzalez lifted a bloop RBI walk-off single over second, giving the Diamondbacks a 3-2 victory in Game 7 and the franchise’s only world championship. For Gonzalez, it was a long way from Jefferson High School. And for the Diamondbacks, it remains the franchise’s signature moment, along with one of the biggest highlights in MLB history.
Carl Crawford, Rays – Ultimately, this distinction might go to Evan Longoria. But Crawford (2003-10 in Tampa Bay, now with the Dodgers) remains the franchise leader in hits (1,480), career batting average (.296), games (1,235), at-bats (4,992), doubles (215), triples (105), runs (765), RBI (592), extra-base hits (424), total bases (2,217) and stolen bases (409).
Luis Gonzalez, Diamondbacks – Gonzalez cemented his status with the Diamondbacks on his World Series-winning hit in 2001. But after eight seasons in Arizona (1999-2006), Gonzalez remains the franchise’s career leader in hits (1,337), games (1,194), at-bats (4,488), doubles (310), homers (224), runs (780), RBI (774), walks (650), total bases (2,373) and slugging percentage (.529).
James Shields, Rays – Ultimately, this distinction might go to David Price. But Shields (2006-12 in Tampa Bay, now with the Royals remains the franchise leader in wins (87), games started (217), innings pitched (1,454 2/3), strikeouts (1,250), shutouts (eight) and complete games (19).
Randy Johnson, Diamondbacks – He won four consecutive Cy Young Awards (1999-2002) with Arizona. He had a perfect game and a pair of 20-win seasons. Need we say more? OK, he also remains the franchise’s career leader in wins (118), games started (232), ERA (2.83), strikeouts (2,077), innings pitched (1,630 1/3), shutouts (14) and complete games (38).
BY THE NUMBERS
Category Rays D-backs
Players 331 355
Wins 1,169 1,266
Losses 1,369 1,275
Runs 11,408 11,591
Hits 22,392 22,380
Homers 2,494 2,677
Batting Avg. .259 .258
ERA 4.54 4.23
Pennants 1 1
WS Titles 0 1
July 25, 2001 – Rays acquire LHP Nick Bierbrodt, OF Jason Conti and cash for RHP Albie Lopez and C Mike DiFelice.
Dec. 13, 2004 – Rays acquire RHP Angel Garcia for cash.
Feb. 6, 2005 – Rays acquire LHP Casey Fossum for OF Jose Cruz Jr., and cash.
July 31, 2010 – Rays acquire RHP Chad Qualls for player to be named (RHP Matt Gorgen).
July 24, 2012 – Rays acquire INF Ryan Roberts for INF Tyler Bortnick.
RAYS VS. DIAMONDBACKS
Season Overall Home Road
2004 3-0 0-0 3-0
2006 3-0 3-0 0-0
2007 1-2 0-0 1-2
2010 1-2 1-2 0-0
2013 1-1 1-1 0-0
Totals 9-5 5-3 4-2
Category Rays Diamondbacks
Run Quinton McCracken Travis Lee
Hit Dave Martinez Travis Lee
Double John Flaherty Chris Jones
Triple Kevin Stocker Brent Brede
Homer Wade Boggs Travis Lee
Grand Slam Paul Sorrento Matt Williams
RBI Wade Boggs Travis Lee
Stolen Base Quinton McCracken Travis Lee
Win Rolando Arrojo Andy Benes
Complete Game Rolando Arrojo Brian Anderson
No-Hitter Matt Garza Randy Johnson
Perfect Game None Randy Johnson
Cy Young Award
Rays (1) – LHP David Price, 2012.
Diamondbacks (5) – LHP Randy Johnson, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002; RHP Brandon Webb, 2006.
Manager of the Year
Rays (2) – Joe Maddon, 2008, 2011.
Diamondbacks (2) – Bob Melvin, 2007; Kirk Gibson, 2011.
Rookie of the Year
Rays (2) – 3B Evan Longoria, 2008; RHP Jeremy Hellickson, 2011.
Diamondbacks – None.
Most Valuable Player
Rays – None.
Diamondbacks – None.
Rays – Wade Boggs (12), Jackie Robinson (42).
Diamondbacks – Luis Gonzalez (20), Jackie Robinson (42).