Sure, we all wanted a sweep, and if maybe a play or two had gone the Rays way on Friday they might have gotten it. If a play or two had gone the Red Sox way on Saturday, though, they might have only earned a split. Instead, they were able to take three out of four; and now travel to New York to see if they can draw closer still in the AL playoff chase.
The important thing to remember as a Rays fan is how far they have come in just a couple weeks. After losing four out of five and a heartbreaker to the Orioles in Tampa on September 2, the Rays found themselves nine games behind the Boston Red Sox in the wildcard race. The Red Sox weren’t doing anything spectacular at the time. They had won six out of ten but also had lost two in a row, perhaps a sign of things to come. They have won exactly four games since. In contrast, the Rays have lost just four games from the same point.
So, that is how we get to where we are now, with Tampa Bay trailing Boston by two games with ten games left in the regular season. Don’t think that the Rays will be satisfied with just having made it a race. Listen to Joe Maddon, to the players; they are convinced they can draw even or overtake the Red Sox before the season is over. If they can do it, no one will be able to say it was easy.
Of the Rays last ten games, seven are against the team with the American League’s best record, the New York Yankees. Meanwhile, the Boston Red Sox play the worst team in the AL East, the Baltimore Orioles, seven times in their last ten. The Rays have been a team trying to beat the odds all year. The odds were against them when you looked at their roster before the season started. The odds were against them when arguably their two best offensive talents, B.J. Upton and Evan Longoria struggled through the middle of the year. The odds were certainly against them two weeks ago when they were nine games behind with less than a month of baseball left. More than half your games against your division rival, the best team in the league? Something tells me the Rays wouldn’t have it any other way.