The celebration started at 11:40 p.m. Sunday, when Akinori Iwamura fielded Jed Lowrie's hard grounder and tagged second base for the final out, and it might last until Wednesday, when the Rays will host the Phillies at Tropicana Field for the first game of the World Series.
Even pitcher Scott Kazmir, who brazenly observed on the first day of spring training that the Rays were good enough to play in October, admitted he didn't expect this much - to be four wins from a World Series championship.
"Not in a million years," he said. "I knew we were going to be good, but I never expected this. I don't think anyone did, until we got halfway done with the season. After that, we knew, we knew we had something."
They got to the World Series because they were able to put behind them the shock and frustration of Thursday's Game 5 loss, when they were seven runs up and seven outs away from the AL pennant, but the Red Sox rallied to stage the greatest comeback in a postseason elimination game. When the Rays lost that night and again Saturday, it appeared they might not recover.
But they stayed confident, and calm, and the difference was noticeable Sunday.
"We learned a lot from (Thursday), and it takes adversity to see what you're made of," Cliff Floyd said. "And through the whole season, when it got tough, we got better. I liked (Sunday) better than I liked (Saturday). That wasn't us. Today was us when we came in. It was how we played all season. It was how we prepared ourselves, (batting practice) was the same, nobody stretched, we messed around, that's what we did all season."
RAYS 3, RED SOX 1: Matt Garza pitched superbly into the eighth inning, and the Rays got big hits from Evan Longoria, Willy Aybar and Rocco Baldelli to beat the Red Sox and win the AL pennant. David Price got the biggest out of the game, striking out J.D. Drew with the bases loaded in the eighth inning, and he pitched a scoreless ninth for the save.
The numbers game: 2 Teams that have gone from having the worst record in the majors one season to the World Series the next, the Rays and the 1991 Braves.
He said what? "There's really nothing else to say expect nobody would have thought this in a million years." - OF Cliff Floyd, on the Rays going to the World Series.