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Saturday Mar 25th, 2017  

 Driven reliever helps Rays reach ALCS
posted 8 years ago

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Grant Balfour is unapologetic. By his own admission, Tampa Bay's hard-throwing reliever will say just about anything to talk himself into the right frame of mind to do his job. And, if his shouting and swearing on the mound occasionally riles an opposing batter, then so be it. "That's what I've been doing all year long," he said. "I'm not going to change." The ALCS-bound Rays wouldn't have it any other way. Balfour has had a career year while contributing to one of the biggest bullpen turnarounds in major league history. He also was instrumental in Tampa Bay breezing through its opening-round playoff series against the Chicago White Sox. The right-hander appeared in all three games the Rays won, working 3 1-3 scoreless innings for a spotless 0.00 ERA with one walk and four strikeouts. He fanned the only two batters he faced after entering Game 1 with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh, feeding off Chicago's Orlando Cabrera, who took exception to Balfour's bravura and exchanged words with the reliever. Cabrera calmed down after being told that's how Balfour motivates himself. But by then, the Rays pitcher was incensed.

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