Upon leaving Seattle after today’s game, the Tampa Bay Rays will have won no more than three games on the ten-game West Coast swing. Of course, that total would be two wins, should they not pull out a victory today. Matt Moore will take his 15-3 record against Mariners’ right-hander Erasmo Ramirez, who has put together a 5-1 record, even with an E.R.A. of 5.07.
What’s happening with the Rays? Nothing much is going well. They have struggled greatly with runners in scoring position, and while they are the 2nd-best in baseball with only fifty-four errors, it seems they have come at inopportune times recently, either resulting in key runs or extending innings and running up pitch counts. Tampa Bay’s pitchers have not strung together a significant number of outings back-to-back as they seemed to be able to do throughout the month of July, running up a record of twenty-one and five. Base running mistakes, rare, with the Rays, have come at crucial times in close games.
The month of August saw Tampa Bay going eleven-and-fifteen. September, a time when the Rays are used to riding their pitching, solid defense, and timely hitting toward the playoffs, has resulted in a record of two wins to go along with five losses. The American League West has been a killer for Tampa Bay on this current trip, and over-all, they are playing .500 ball against the Left Coast, sitting at 14-14.
The Rays are in a virtual tie with Texas for the A.L. wild-card lead, and stand just one game ahead of Baltimore and Cleveland. New York stands just 2.5 games behind Tampa Bay in the playoff chase. The good news is that the Rays can put losses on the O’s, Rangers, and Yankees, as they play each of them. They have a three-game set with the Orioles at home, as well as a four-game series with Texas at The Trop’. They play the Yankee three more times, in The Bronx. The bad news for Tampa Bay is that they only have six games against losing teams after today, against Minnesota and Toronto. And Toronto never lays down for Tampa bay.
- After tomorrow’s off day, the Rays will play twenty games in twenty days – no days off. Should they get on a good roll, that schedule could actually help them stay hot.
- The last six games of the season will be on the road: three at Yankee Stadium, followed by three more in Toronto.
- With little things like an error here, and a base running mistake there hurting their cause, their work with runners-in-scoring-position might be most telling August until today. The Rays were very effective in such situations before the All-Star break, and were 2nd in the A.L. for the month of July. September has seen the Rays go 9-66, .136, with men in scoring position.
- I’m going to believe that Tampa Bay can turn things around. As we always used to say when I coached, “One pitch at a time. Find a way.” And hopefully, the season will continue into them month of October.