Gerry Hunsicker, Tampa Bay's senior vice president for baseball operations, credits the turnaround of the infield defense as one of the keys to the Rays' success.
"Defensively, I think this is the best infield in the league," Hunsicker said. "We're solid on the corners, I can't say enough about what [Jason Bartlett] has made our middle infield defensively, and Aki [Iwamura] has played Gold Glove-caliber defense after moving over from third."
Rays middle infielders committed 47 errors last season, with a .962 fielding percentage. That total dropped to 33 this year.
Chill out: The game-time temperature at U.S. Cellular Field on Sunday was 58 degrees, which didn't bode well for the Rays. Tampa Bay played outdoors in temperatures below 60 degrees on 12 occasions this season and posted a 4-8 record in those games. On the other hand, the Rays do play well when the air conditioning is on inside their dome in St. Petersburg.
Comeback kids: Each of the Rays' first two wins over the White Sox in this series were comeback victories. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it marked the first time in baseball history that a team won each of its first two postseason games by overcoming deficits of two or more runs in each contest. Tampa Bay won 28 games under the same circumstances during the regular season.
Elite company: If the Rays had won on Sunday, they would have become just the fifth team in baseball history to sweep its first postseason series. The four teams that did it previously all went on to win the World Series.
The 1917 Boston Braves swept the Philadelphia A's in four games in the World Series, as did the 1966 Orioles against the Dodgers. The other two were expansion clubs -- the 1969 Mets over the Braves in the NLCS in three games, and the 1997 Marlins swept the Giants in their NL Division Series. Both the Mets and the Marlins went on to win the Fall Classic.