The plan is for me to meet up mid-state with Professor Twain, a friend I met on Twitter, to watch the Tampa Bay Rays on TV¸ smoke a cigar, and enjoy a decent meal this coming Sunday. No matter that the Rays are holding on to a tenuous one-game lead in the American League Wild Card race. No concerns that there are actually four teams – New York, Baltimore, Cleveland, and Kansas City within a mere TWO games of the stumbling Rays. We’ll be there, supporting Tampa Bay no matter what, not questioning every move by Joe Maddon or every poorly thrown pitch or weak swing. We’ll just sit back and hope for the best for the Team from the Trop.
Including tonight’s game with Boston, the Rays have a total of eighteen games left in the season. I would say they need to win at least thirteen of those game to move on. There’s no science to this, just some common sense: there’s a very good possibility that K.C. or the Indians could tear it up over the last three weeks of the season. As for New York and Baltimore, the Rays can help themselves, as they have four games with the Orioles and three with the Yankees. Of those thirteen wins, they will almost have to win each of the series with Baltimore and New York.
- Tampa Bay sits in fifth place in the A.L. with a team O.P.S. of .739, which puts them behind both the Red Sox and Orioles in the A.L. East. They have only fifty-three errors, and a fielding percentage of .990, which places them behind only the Orioles in the American League. Those are pretty good numbers. One problem: Tampa Bay ranks tenth in the A.L. in runs scored, and top only the Yankees in the East in that department. Even though their pitching staff ranks fifth in the Junior Circuit in runs allowed, and top their division in that category, they aren’t putting enough runs on the board recently to rack up the wins.
- The Rays will run Chris Archer, Matt Moore, and David Price out to the mound against Minnesota this weekend. Archer and Price have struggled recently, although Price lost a tough decision his last time out. Moore has looked good since returning from the disabled list, and although he didn’t get the win in his last outing against Seattle, he kept the team in the game long enough to pull it out.
- With eighteen games left, another good streak could surely be in the offing for Tampa Bay. One good run, and they can make it back to the post-season. I’ve seen Maddon questioned, and the players blamed over the past couple of weeks as they have drifted farther and farther behind the Red Sox, and lost a great amount of ground in the wild card hunt. I can’t go there. Seasons are long, and they have a life of their own. All a manager can do is put his players in the best possible position to win, and Maddon has done that. As for the players, there is no doubt that they are giving their best. This is the time of the year that teams get hot, hold on, or fall off the playoff cliff. Deep breath. One game at a time…
- This isn’t the time for the team to point fingers, either. Joe Maddon surely knows that. http://www.tampabay.com/sports/baseball/rays/rays-maddon-reassures-struggling-jennings/2141298