May 12, 2013; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Kelly Johnson (2), shortstop Yunel Escobar (11), left fielder Sam Fuld (5) and pitcher David Price (14) congratulated each other after they swept the San Diego Padres at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay Rays defeated the San Diego Padres 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

What A Difference Five Days Make for the Tampa Bay Rays

Five days ago it looked like all hope was lost. The Rays let another early lead slip away, with the bullpen melting down following a strong performance by Roberto Hernandez, and the Rays’ record slipped to 14-18. Their starting pitching was inconsistent, their bullpen was flimsy at best, and it didn’t even matter that their offense was on fire. They were a bad team and everyone was willing to write them off. But now, everything is changing. The Rays’ record sits at 19-18 after they have reeled off five straight wins. There’s certainly still more work to be done–the Blue Jays and Padres are a combined 31-44 on the season–but it just seems like everything is beginning to click. The bullpen has done a complete 180, reemerging as one of the strengths of the team. The starting pitching remains enigmatic, but suddenly the Rays aren’t afraid when adversity comes along. There’s a confidence in this team that has suddenly appeared, and the way  the Rays are playing, it may not go away again anytime soon. The season is not even a quarter through and anything can happen. But by the end of it all, the Rays have the ability to be every bit as good of a team as we thought they would be and contend in the AL East until the bitter end. The past few weeks have been terrible. At this point, though, the storm has passed and the Rays have emerged as strong as ever. The season begins with predictions of a World Series berth and an enthusiasm around this team unmatched in Rays history. It’s been rough to be a Rays fan of late, but now it’s time to get excited about this team once again.

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