Things got a little weird for the Tampa Bay Rays early Saturday morning. As if being locked in an extended struggle at Tropicana Field with the Baltimore Orioles wasn’t enough, a few curious characters stopped by their dugout to make their 5-4 victory in the 18-inning marathon even zanier.
Rays players have been known to use props in post-victory dance parties. So when the traditional rally-cap strategy didn’t work in the 17th inning, their Chewbacca and Gene Simmons masks, typically used in the clubhouse after clinching a win, were used to spice things up in the 18th. Designated hitter Luke Scott sported the Chewbacca gear, and pitchers Jamey Wright and Matt Moore took turns in the KISS costume.
“We pulled out all the characters, had a lot of stuff going on, but to pull a win in this type of atmosphere, it’s a great win for us,” Rays outfielder David DeJesus told reporters.
Something clicked. DeJesus cracked an RBI single against right-hander Bud Norris into center field, scoring Desmond Jennings from second, to end the deadlock. The six-hour, 54-minute game was the longest in both teams’ history, and the result allowed the Rays to stay atop the American League wild card race. Had it gone 19 innings, the Rays had plans to bring their postgame buffet spread into the dugout.
Hey, whatever works, no matter how strange. Chewbacca? KISS? Anything goes when postseason hopes are at stake.