Red Sox, Rays a Study in Contrasting Emotions Following Tampa Bay’s Walk-Off Win

Red Sox, Rays a Study in Contrasting Emotions Following Tampa Bay's Walk-Off Win If emotion means anything, the scene in Tropicana Field at about 11:10 p.m. Saturday night speaks volumes to the mindset of the two teams who had just finished a game.

There were the Tampa Bay Rays, mauling Evan Longoria after he delivered a walk-off RBI single off Daniel Bard in the bottom of the 11th. Across the diamond sat the Boston Red Sox, now fully engrossed in what has become a dismal slump that is drawing increased attention from those interested in the possibility of witnessing a train wreck.

Considering that the two teams play again in just over 14 hours on this very same diamond, it's safe to say that some of those emotions will linger. And if those emotions help out the Rays any more than your average everyday victory does, there's a chance that the two rivals will continue down their divergent paths.

"It just really shows that we've built a lot of character over this year and hopefully we've got a lot of baseball to play," Longoria said.

There's still a sizable hill for the Rays to climb. Coming to the park with a smile on your face doesn't make a 4 1/2-game lead vanish on its own. Also, Jon Lester is on the mound for the Red Sox on Sunday. As the saying goes, you're only as strong as your next day's starting pitcher.

If Lester rights the ship and Boston returns to Fenway Park to do some damage during a 10-game homestand, there's always the chance that this swoon will eventually turn into a positive.

"Hopefully we'll be able to take some of these bumps and bruises and be able to learn from them," said Jonathan Papelbon, who gave way to Bard after throwing two scoreless innings. "Carry on into the season and hopefully the playoffs."

Hopefully.

The fact remains that the home team will wake up with a smile Sunday morning while the other team sprinkled throughout an area hotel probably won't get to their first sip of coffee before thinking about what's occurred over the past week-plus.

The Red Sox have lost four straight games, six of their last seven and eight of their last 10. They've dropped four in a row against Tampa Bay. For the first time since 2001, Boston has dropped four straight series.

And the roller coaster that came with Saturday's loss, from the highs of the Sox' game-tying rally in the top of the ninth to the lows of the game-ending Ray's rally in the 11th, seemed to emphasize how painful it's all been. It is almost like being dumped, getting all excited over an incoming call from your ex and then having her tell you she dialed the wrong number. You're knocked down, lifted up for a brief moment and then driven into despair once again.

When asked what the state of the teams' emotions were in the wake of the setback, Bard spoke plainly.

"We've just lost a bunch of games in a row so it's not very good."

On the other end, where the Rays have won 21 of 31, it is.

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