- Buster Olney, Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- As Dustin Pedroia walked into Tropicana Field early Monday afternoon, a young Rays fan said to him, with all good humor, that he was hopeful that Tampa Bay might win a game, and that there would be a Game 4 Tuesday night.
"No chance," Pedroia said bluntly, or, in other words, the way he says everything.
But the Rays did survive, when the most unlikely of heroes came off the Tampa Bay bench and blasted a long home run off a pitcher who hadn’t allowed a homer in more than three months. When it was over, Jose Lobaton stood on the field with the celebratory ice cream cone he is always provided by teammates and explained how he had managed to hit a ball off Koji Uehara to a place where almost no one hits a home run in Tropicana Field, and the managers took their turns in the interview room.
Interestingly, Boston manager John Farrell and Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon both seemed exhilarated by the 4-hour, 18-minute game, in the way that a math savant might be after solving an equation. The game involved many decisions, tense moments and pivotal choices that the two of them might review as an academic exercise for years to come, if not for the fact that they have to move on to Game 4 Tuesday night.
"There was so much stuff that happened," Maddon said.
Said Farrell: "I can't say enough [about] the way we came back after giving up the lead, we come back against their closer in [Fernando] Rodney. Just that was an exciting game. Well played game. We played a very good game tonight."
Some of the decisions worked out and others didn’t, and Maddon and Farrell spoke without any hint of defensiveness, and with the belief that in those moments, they had made what they believed to be the best choices based on the information at hand, with complete respect for an opponent they know well.