Tampa Bay Rays are a Major League Baseball franchise based in St. Petersburg, Florida. Tampa Bay Rays are a member of the Eastern Division of MLB's American League. Since their inception in 1998, the club has played at Tropicana Field and has finished out of last place three times: once in 2004, when they finished fourth in their division; in 2008, when they won their first division title, entered the playoffs for the first time in team history, and qualified for the World Series; and in 2009. In November 2007, majority owner Stuart Sternberg made significant changes to his franchise's image, changing the club's name from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to the "Tampa Bay Rays", which he described as "a beacon that radiates throughout Tampa Bay and across the entire state of Florida." The teams' primary colors were also changed from black, green, and blue to navy blue, Columbia blue, and gold.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays went 9-14 in the first month of the 2009 season, finish the month 4th place in the AL East. Evan Longoria led the AL with 28 RBIs, along with seven home runs and a .368 batting average.
In May, the Rays went 16-14, finishing the month with an overall record of 25-28 and just half a game out of last place. On May 24, they presumably lost starting second baseman Akinori Iwamura for the remainder of the season to a leg injury suffered while attempting to turn a double play. After surgery was performed a month later, it was discovered that the injury was not as serious, meaning Iwamura could return to action in several weeks.
June would prove to be the Rays’ best month of the season, winning 19 games and improving to a 44-35 record. Though behind the division lead by 4 games, they were only 1½ back in the wild card.
In July, the Rays went .500 for the month with a 12-12 record, moving to 56-47 overall, but would still make franchise history. Carl Crawford, Jason Bartlett, Ben Zobrist, and Evan Longoria would all be All-Stars for the American League in the All-Star Game, with Longoria earning the start at third base after receiving the highest amount of votes from the fans. However, Longoria would not participate, suffering an infection in his finger the week of the all-star break. Carlos Peña would be added as a replacement player for another injured all-star, and also participated in the 2009 Home Run Derby. In the All-Star Game, Carl Crawford took home MVP honors, by making a leaping catch at the wall to take away a home run.
In August, the Rays saw the return of Iwamura, and made a pivotal trade. On August 29, the Rays sent Scott Kazmir to the Angels, receiving two minor league prospects and a player to be named later. Kazmir left the team as the all-time leader in wins and strikeouts. Finishing the month 15-12, they improved to 71-59, assuring themselves the club’s second best season in franchise history. However the Rays fell way behind the lead for the division, but still had a chance at winning the wild card.
The Rays stumbled in September, losing 11 games in a row at one point, and lost Carlos Peña for the remainder of the season after he broke a finger when hit by a pitch. At the time Peña was leading the American League in home runs. They would still clinch a winning season on the last day of the month, despite being eliminated from postseason contention on September 22.
On October 2, B.J. Upton became the first Tampa Bay player to hit for the cycle.
Despite being unable to successfully defend their division title and American League championship from the improbable season before, the Rays still finished the 2009 campaign in the tough AL East with an 84-78 record, good enough for 3rd place.