The lack of offense has been the primary culprit an an all around lackluster effort so far that has seen the Rays score one run on eight hits in the two losses at Tropicana Field. If the Rays are able to salvage this series and advance, they would be only the fifth team out of 60 to win a five-game postseason series after losing the first two and only the second team to do it after losing the first two homes games.
So difficult but not impossible But what do the Rays need to do?
"We've got to start being us a little bit more consistently. We have not played well the first two games — whether it's pitching, hitting or defense. We really have not played up to our capabilities. If we just get back to being us for several days, we'll be just fine." -- Manager Joe Maddon
"We have to win it from the inside out. It starts with that, believing and being ourselves. It's almost, as strange as it sounds, like the challenge is not to beat the other team." -- First baseman Carlos Pena
"We put too much pressure on ourselves, and that's not who this team is. It was like everyone got on the flight and was like, 'Whew!' What makes this team great is the team chemistry, and we hadn't had a lot of that going on lately. It was who we had been the whole year and not who we'd been through the first two games of this playoff series." -- Reliever Randy Choate
"We've got to stay away from the big inning and big blow. If we make these guys string together four or five base hits to beat us, it's going to be difficult for them to do. But if we get into fastball counts and give fastballs to fastball hitters, we're probably going to pay the price like we have in the first two games. We need to avoid getting behind. We need to work ahead, which has been our mantra all year." Pitching coach Jim Hickey
The Rays will look to Matt Garza to begin the uphill climb. This is not the first time Garza has been called upon to come through in a tough spot; he was the starter in game 7 of the 2008 ALCS. He got the win in that game, allowing one run on two hits over seven innings, and was named the most valuable player of the series. Garza says that expereince will help him in this situation.
"Just remember the type of confidence, the type of stuff I took in there. For me, I'm a big emotion guy, so I have a lot, a lot of adrenaline, a lot of excitement, a lot of anticipation just flowing through my body right now, so I can't wait. I'm seriously sitting at the edge of my seat ready to go."
The game begins at 5:07 p.m., televised nationally on TBS with local radio coverage available on 620 WDAE-AM.