The Tampa Bay Rays (77-63) can't seem to win out west. This has been a horrible road trip for the Rays as they continue to struggle. They were swept by Oakland, split the Angels series and then dropped the first game of three on Friday night in Seattle. The Rays can't be worried about the much anticipated Boston Red Sox (86-57) series at Tropicana Field starting on Tuesday as they must take care of business in Seattle. They need to win the next two games with the Mariners. Tampa Bay controls its own destiny and all they need to do is win and they can’t seem to get it together all around. Pitching, hitting and defense all have had slip ups this road trip. The Rays just have to have a solid September and they are in the playoffs. Playoff teams should be able to beat the Angels (66-74) and Mariners (64-77) but this is not how it is playing out.
Friday was the first game of three with the Mariners and Alex Cobb was on the mound. He pitched well enough to keep it close as he gave up four runs but it ended up being a tough game to swallow for the Rays. They were in it until the end. The Rays lost 6-4 and blew the tie in the 8th inning. Joel Peralta took the loss giving up the winning double with two runners on. Desmond Jennings dropped a ball which led to the first base runner of the inning when the game was tied 4-4. Delmon Young tied the game 1-1 back in the second inning with his first homer since returning to the Rays. Luke Scott had a opposite field double off the bat to bring in Wil Myers and tie the game 4-4 in the 7th inning but then it went downhill from there. Sean Rodriguez was picked off second base in the seventh right before Scott collected his double which only tied the game when Tampa Bay could have taken the lead as they were down 4-3. Missed opportunities and chances have haunted the Rays in this recent slump. Rays' batters did collect 12 hits as it turned out not to be enough but maybe this is something to build on.
On Thursday, David Price was on the hill. He struggled through the first three innings giving up six runs. Tampa Bay lost 6-2 and they still have yet to get out of this offensive slump as the only two runs were provided by a James Loney double in the third inning. Jeremy Hellickson looked great on Wednesday and was very efficient with his pitches as he pitched into the sixth inning. This was his first stint back in the majors just like Matt Moore on Tuesday. It was a Wil Myers show on the offensive side of the ball as he hit two bombs for the second time in his young career and Tampa Bay took the victory 3-1 against the Angels.
The return of Matt Moore is just what the Rays needed on Tuesday to get back in the winning ways as they had dropped five straight coming into this game. Moore looked great pitching into the sixth inning as Tampa Bay racked up 15 hits and beat the Los Angeles Angels 7-1. Desmond Jennings and Yunel Escobar went deep which was good to see some power from the right side of the plate. Ben Zobrist also added a big double as he has been hot recently. Roberto Hernandez looked fantastic out of the bullpen as he finished off the game on Tuesday night. Maybe Tampa Bay has found a new home for Hernandez.
It is all in the Rays hands if they want to be in the postseason. All they have to do is win and nobody can take that wildcard spot from them. If they slip up even just a little bit and continue down this road you can be sure the hot New York Yankees (75-66) who are 2.5 games back will slide into the picture. The Baltimore Orioles (75-65) and Cleveland Indians (75-65) will snag it from them as well as these teams are only two games back of the final wildcard spot the Rays are sitting on as of now. Tampa Bay is now seven and a half games back of the Boston Red Sox in the American League East with only 22 games remaining so they will definitely need some serious help to take the division this season. The Rays are a much better ball club at home so be sure to come support your Rays this week in a huge series starting on Tuesday. It would be nice if Boston can lose this weekend so the Rays can get within striking range of five with a sweep to make the division close and put some pressure on them. This is kind of a losing situation either way this weekend as the Red Sox are playing the Yankees and Rays’ fans need them both to lose.