BOSTON -- When the Rays board their flight to Florida on Sunday morning after Game 2 of the American League Division Series, it'll mark the end of an emotional two-week, 5,631-mile journey -- a trek so long, in fact, that it's hard for some of them to remember where it started.
The trip began late on Sept. 23, after Tampa Bay had completed a four-game sweep of Baltimore at Tropicana Field. The Rays set out for New York, where they swept the Yankees and were on the other side of Mariano Rivera's memorable final appearance. Then it was off to Toronto, where two losses led to a must-win Game 162; and Texas, for the must-win Game 163; and Cleveland, for the must-win AL Wild Card Game; and, finally, Boston, for the ALDS.
"I was thinking about that. It's almost like you forgot about the New York part of it. It's like you started in Toronto," manager Joe Maddon said. "I also believe that you get to these games and you're so 'here' that you don't necessarily worry about that. Like [in the] regular season, if it's June, [you think], 'God, we've been on the road. How long have we been on the road?'
"But it's been so much exciting energy, and this has been fun stuff, man. So I haven't worn it like I think I would have worn it a couple months ago."
Speaking of wearing it: Maddon has only had to add one shirt to the luggage he brought when the team set out on this trip. Perhaps fittingly for Maddon, it wasn't out of necessity; it was about finding a combination he liked.
"I could have gone another direction, but I wasn't satisfied with the pairings as I had them left. It was all about matchups," he said, smiling. "I'm just telling you the truth. That's exactly what happened."
Bill Chastain and Adam Berry are reporters for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.