© St. Petersburg Times, published September 30, 2002
BOSTON -- Randy Winn didn't make it to .300. He'll have to settle for .2981878.
Winn's bid for a .300 average came down to his last at-bat Sunday. He'd gone 1-for-4 to that point, flying out in the first, striking out in the fourth, homering in the fifth and striking out in the seventh.
When he came up in the ninth against Boston closer Ugueth Urbina, trying to hit from the dark late afternoon shadows, he didn't have much of a chance, taking two strikes and swinging at a third.
"It would have been nice to say I hit .300 because that's sort of the standard," Winn said. "The way I felt at the plate the last month-and-a-half, to even have a shot going in the last day, let alone the last at-bat, was great."
Coming up one hit short (which would have made his average .29983526) shouldn't diminish what Winn accomplished this season, his first as a full-time player. He earned a selection to the All-Star Game, set team records for hits (181) and doubles (39) in a season and led the club with 87 runs, 75 RBIs and 27 stolen bases. He was the only player in the American League to be in the top 10 in singles, doubles and triples. He also put himself in position for a huge raise, with a 2003 salary perhaps in excess of $3-million.
"Regardless of whether he hit .300 or not, he had a good year," manager Hal McRae said. "It's not going to cost Randy any money. It's not like they remove a zero if he doesn't hit .300."
-- The Rays hit two batters to set a major-league record with 94 on the season; Boston hit 93 last year. "That says we like to pitch inside," McRae said.
-- Aubrey Huff came up eight plate appearances shy of qualifying for the AL batting race. With a .313 average he would have finished seventh.
-- Tanyon Sturtze became the first American League pitcher, and fourth overall, to lead his league in losses (18), hits allowed (271), runs allowed (141) and walks (89).
DRAFT BREEZE: Though the Rays finished tied with Detroit at 55-106, the Rays get first pick in the June draft because they had a worse record last season.
END OF AN ERROR: Signing Wilson Alvarez to a five-year, $35-million contract was one of the Rays' first big deals, and one of their biggest mistakes.
Alvarez finished his career with the Rays on Sunday as he started it in the 1998 inaugural game, pitching poorly and taking the loss. The difference is that he came to the Rays as a 27-year-old expected to anchor the rotation and left as a 32-year-old long reliever hoping to find a job next season.
In between were five long seasons. He went 17-26 with a 4.62 ERA in 76 games (63 starts) and missed two full seasons, and parts of the other three, with assorted arm injuries.
"I did the best I could," Alvarez said. "I gave it all I've got. It's too bad I got hurt and didn't do what they expected me to do. But I gave them my best. I know people are disappointed, but all I can say is I'm sorry about it. I tried."
CENTURY CITY: The Rays went 7-6 after posting their 100th loss, making them one of 14 teams (of 125 overall) to have a winning record after hitting the century mark. The Rays' seven post-100-loss wins are the fourth-most and match the most for an AL team.
UP AND DOWN: The last game of the season was one of the most entertaining, as the teams kept scoring and the lead changed four times. The key for the Sox was a five-run fifth, which could have been avoided had the Rays been successful in turning an inning-ending double play.
Rookie Delvin James gave up six runs on 10 hits in 42/3 innings but did well enough that McRae said he should be considered a candidate for a starting or relief job next season.
MISCELLANY: The Rays finished 3-16 against Boston, the most losses to one team since Pittsburgh lost 17 to the Mets in 1986. ... The Rays' .253 team average was a franchise low and the 5.29 ERA a franchise high. ... After his one-month demotion to Triple-A Durham, Toby Hall hit .297, .345 over his last 29 games. ... Opening day is March 31, 5:15 p.m. at Tropicana Field against the Red Sox.
Avg -- .313, Aubrey Huff
Hits -- 181, Randy Winn
Runs -- 87, Winn
2Bs -- 39, Winn
3Bs -- 9, Winn
HRs -- 23, Huff
RBIs -- 75, Randy Winn
Ks -- 139, Jared Sandberg
BBs -- 69, Ben Grieve
Steals -- 27, Winn
Ws -- 8, Joe Kennedy, Victor Zambrano
Ls -- 18, Tanyon Sturtze
ERA -- 4.30, Esteban Yan
Saves -- 19, Yan
IP -- 224, Sturtze
Ks -- 137, Sturtze
BBs -- 89, Sturtze
(Team records in bold)