An interleague series that has been viewed as one of the least glamorous in baseball finally has some appeal.
Coming off their improbable run to a world championship last year, the Marlins find themselves atop the NL East, one game ahead of the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Devil Rays, who have failed to escape the AL East cellar in any of their first six seasons, are still a good distance behind the first-place New York Yankees in the division, but have climbed into third after putting together the best run in franchise history.
Tampa Bay has won 13 of its last 14 games, including Thursday’s wild 19-13 victory in Toronto. One day after having their team-record 12-game winning streak snapped, the Devil Rays responded by setting team records for runs and hits (24).
They finished 8-1 on their nine-game trip, and hope to climb back to .500 when they open a seven-game homestand by hosting their intrastate rivals.
“The goal was to just come back and get a win,” Devil Rays outfielder Jose Cruz Jr. said. “We completed a great road trip, the best one in Tampa Bay history. We were bound to lose one game, but we were able to come back and close it out. It got a little crazy at the end, but the final score was nice.”
The Devil Rays dropped their interleague opener to San Francisco before winning 11 straight against NL opponents.
The Marlins, who went 5-7 during the first round of interleague play, won two of three against Atlanta, suffering a 9-4 setback in Thursday’s series finale.
The Marlins scored four runs in the first inning, but Dontrelle Willis was hit hard for a second straight outing, yielding six runs in only four innings.