The Rays celebrated clinching a postseason spot on Wednesday, following a 5–0 win over the Red Sox. As has become customary for MLB teams, Tampa Bay broke out bottles of champagne in the clubhouse and sprayed each other jubilantly.
However, this celebration was a bit strange. The Rays clinched their postseason spot on Sept. 17, not Sept. 27. So why did they break out the champagne 10 days after securing a playoff berth?
As Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times explained, the Rays clinched a postseason berth when the Rangers lost to the Guardians on Sept. 17. But Tampa Bay also lost that night, falling to the Orioles in 11 innings, 5–4. The loss was a painful one, as the Rays bullpen blew leads in the ninth and 10th innings. So team officials decided to postpone their plans to celebrate.
This season has been trying, but we're not gonna go without recognizing what we've accomplished. 🍾— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) September 28, 2023
97 wins and we're not done yet. pic.twitter.com/dxywZhWYz6
The Rays won five of their next eight games, providing other opportunities to pop some corks. But players decided to celebrate Wednesday night, win or lose, before the final off-day of the regular season.
“I know it’s different,” manager Kevin Cash told Topkin. “I just told the guys, ‘We’re different. We’re the Rays.’”
Tampa Bay still has a chance to win the AL East but trails the Orioles by 2 1/2 games with three remaining. The Rays finish the regular season with a trio of games in Toronto this weekend.