While 31,855 showed up to watch the Rangers-Rays contest, along with the scheduled fireworks show after the game, Rangers hitters went off during an 11-run fifth inning that sparked a 15-3 rout of the Rays.
"It's hard to come back from 11-run innings," said Rays manager Joe Maddon. "It really is difficult."
In losing, the Rays fell to 78-76 on the season as their road record moved to 31-49.
Matt Garza started for the Rays and appeared to be cruising with a 3-0 lead heading into the bottom of the fourth. Even when Marlon Byrd led off the fourth with his 18th home run of the season, Garza appeared to be OK. He had his good stuff working for him and, after all, Byrd's home run was just a solo home run.
Unfortunately for Garza and the Rays, the next one Byrd hit came with the bases loaded in the fifth inning. When the ball landed in the Rays bullpen, 423 feet from home plate, the Rangers had a 5-3 lead.
"When you have Garza on the mound and he's pitching like that, you're just looking to put the ball in play and hopefully find a hole. That was huge for us." Byrd said.
Both pitches to Byrd were down in the zone according to Garza.
"It's his hot zone, down, and the last home run was a fastball, down and in, his nitro zone, and he just got it," Garza said.
Garza remained in the game for two more batters before Jeff Bennett took over with runners on first and second and two outs.
Bennett could never get the elusive third out in the fifth as he allowed his two inherited runners to score, followed by five additional runs on five hits and two walks. When Dale Thayer finally took over and retired Hank Blalock on a flyout to center field to end the inning, Rays players ran off the field and the scoreboard read: 12-3.
"They were hitting good pitches," Bennett said. "Hamilton hit a pitch that was probably six inches in, a slider. Not supposed to hit balls like that. Davis hit a ball that was probably six inches off, a sinker down at his knees. ... You get paid to make pitches like that and you can't dictate what happens after you let the ball go."
Prior to Saturday night, Bennett had last pitched on Sept. 7 in a four-inning stint against the Yankees.
"Sat for 19 days and don't see a hitter, it's tough," Bennett said. "But that's no excuse. [You have to] go in there and make pitches, and I think I did that. I made some good pitches in good counts, but I didn't get the results, just one of those things. I mean I could have been pitching every day and still gotten the same outcome. It's just one of those things."
Eleven runs in one inning were the most the Rangers had scored in an inning since June 23, 1998, when they scored 11 in an inning against the Diamondbacks. Surrendering 11 runs in one inning came within two runs of tying the Rays' team record. The 2005 Rays allowed the Yankees to score 13 runs in an inning twice that season. The first time occurred in the second inning on April 18 and the second came in the eighth inning of a game on June 21; both games took place at Yankee Stadium.
"It was ridiculous," Maddon said. "Line drives all over the place. ... It was truly very difficult to watch and almost unbelievable."
The Rays' troubles began in the first inning when they couldn't capitalize on a bases-loaded situation.
Ben Zobrist drew a walk from Rangers starter Kevin Millwood, but Pat Burrell followed by hitting into a 1-2-3 double play before Willy Aybar popped out to end the threat.
"That was huge," Maddon said. "We had a chance to score a bunch or runs early and really put a different tone on that game and we didn't do it."
Jason Bartlett doubled home the Rays' second run in the second and Gregg Zaun hit his eighth home run of the season in the fourth to push the Rays' lead to 3-0.
Where do you go after a game like the Rays experienced Saturday night? Leave it to the Rays skipper to answer that one.
"[Go] home, [have a] couple of beers, come out and play tomorrow," Maddon said.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.