ST. PETERBSURG - It's goodbye until Spring and a bittersweet ending for the Rays, who failed to make the postseason for the second straight year.
The last time they went back-to-back seasons without reaching the playoffs was in 2007 before their long playoff run, but the Rays players leave town for the offseason with an optimistic outlook.
"Just the belief that everybody in here has makes it a little easier to go home," said Evan Longoria. "Next year guys will be prepared to come back and hopefully make the postseason."
Cleaning up, packing up, and putting 2014 behind them, the Rays want to look ahead, but they won't quickly forget what could have been. This team was 10 games over .500 and in first place in the American League on June 20. A month later, they had fallen to fourth in the division.
Their biggest undoing was their 2-13 record in extra-inning games. It buried the Rays' postseason chances. Had they just won half of those games, the Rays would have made the playoffs with a wildcard berth.
"Those extra-innings are on me," Cash told FOX 13 Sports. "I have to do a better job of putting guys in position to win those games. We will get better in extra-inning ball games."
"We put ourselves in this position to control our own destiny," said Kevin Kiermaier. "We're just trying to learn from it."
Evan Longoria overcame first-half struggles to finish strong and, while disappointed with a fourth-place finish in the AL East. Longoria believes a strong foundation for 2016 is in place.
"Obviously we rely on our farm system quite a bit," he said. "So to have so many of those guys come up and perform well, I think, is promising for us down the road."