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Chris O'Meara, Associated Press
Tampa Bay Rays bat boy R.J. Boggs, left, and clubhouse and equipment manager Chris Westmoreland load first baseman Carlos Pena's equipment onto carts as they clean out the clubhouse, Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012, in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Rays' season ended Wednesday with a 4-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays don't have to dig very deep to determine what went wrong in a season that ended much earlier than manager Joe Maddon and his players expected.

Despite superb — and in some cases historic — pitching, an inconsistent offense undermined the team's chances of returning to the playoffs.

The Rays won 12 of their final 14 games to finish with 90 wins, joining the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers as the only clubs with at least that many victories each of the past three seasons.

And while that's not too shabby, finishing third in the AL East and failing to earn their fourth postseason berth in five years was a major disappointment for a team that played as well as any contender down the stretch.