The Tampa Bay Rays (62-65) are trying to become the first team to get back and finish with a winning record after being 18 games below .500 at one point during this season. No team in history has been 18 games under .500 and finished the season with a winning record. This team is easily capable of accomplishing this. Tampa Bay will head to Toronto on Friday to face off against the Blue Jays (65-62). Tampa Bay will have 26 straight games against AL East opponents starting on Friday. The Rays have dropped two big series this past week though against the New York Yankees (64-61) and Detroit Tigers at Tropicana Field. The Rays won last Friday night to get back to .500 but could not continue the surge as they dropped the next four games at home. Tampa Bay is only (29-36) at home this season compared to (33-29) on the road. The Rays are chasing the final Wild Card spot in which Tampa Bay is seven games back as of now.
The Detroit Tigers came in town this week and a series victory could have been huge to get back in the race but the bats couldn't come alive. David Price took the mound against Alex Cobb on Thursday at the Trop. Brandon Guyer provided the only hit for the Rays as they broke their four game skid. The Rays edged by the Tigers while taking their only game of the three-game series on Thursday. Price pitched the entire game for the Tigers while only giving up one hit. Alex Cobb only gave up two hits for the Rays in the 1-0 victory. On Wednesday, the offense continued to struggle with only three hits and was shutout for the 15th time this season; which is the AL most. Wil Myers was called up and plugged back into the lineup on Wednesday night but didn't provide a spark the Rays needed. Chris Archer pitched well on Tuesday but the Rays fell on the opening game in extras against the Tigers (68-57) due to Grant Balfour blowing another game.
There is only 35 games remaining and Tampa Bay is going to have to go on a tear to make history. If Tampa Bay went 26-9 the remaining of the season this could put the Rays in a very interesting position. The Rays have been taking series victories until the last two match-ups but this team needs to start sweeping teams if this history is going to happen. The Rays will need help from the teams in front of them of course. The Rays need to start pumping out victories while the teams in front of them lose so they can gain ground. The good part is the Rays do play head to head against many of the teams they are trailing as the last month of the season quickly approaches.
Evan Longoria is the leader of this organization. He is the face of this franchise and he needs to show it. The power numbers are certainly down this season and he is going to need to get hot to help carry this team if the Rays want to play ball in October. David DeJesus and Ryan Hanigan will bring some reinforcements this month as well. Can Myers and DeJesus provide a much needed lift for this Rays' offense? The Rays definitely need more punch in their lineup as it has been very inconsistent all season. Brandon Guyer can't be to be sent down so the Rays will have some tough decisions to make even though the extended rosters are coming soon. Maybe somebody can provide that fire in the September call ups.
The starting pitching has been outstanding lately. The Rays ripped of a 12 game stretch while only allowing three runs or fewer last week. This was incredible as the pitching staff also leads the league in strikeouts. The starting pitching staff has become better and better as this season has chugged along. Each month their team ERA has gone down. The trading of David Price has not affected the pitching staff as of yet. Jeremy Hellickson has looked solid and to go with Drew Smyly as well who will take the mound on Friday. Nick Franklin was a part of the Price trade and Rays' fans need to see what he is made of very soon. He is hitting well in Durham and should be promoted with the expanded rosters in September.
The Rays have nine more games against the Blue Jays, six against the Yankees, seven against the Baltimore Orioles (73-52) and three against the Cleveland Indians (64-62). These are all teams the Rays are trailing so obviously taking care of business against the teams could put them right back in the mix of things. Joe Maddon has not given up on this team and it has shown as the Rays have been one of the hottest teams in baseball in the last two months before the last homestand. We will find out soon enough if this team is capable of such a run to make history and maybe even the postseason in 2014. This certainly would be an eye opening historical run if the Rays can do it.