Think back to the halcyon days of the 1980′s, where hair metal ruled the airways and one could walk down the street in a Member’s Only jacket without being laughed at. Mr. T was one of the top celebrities of the time, as he and his gold chains could be found hawking everything from cereal to tiki torches (seriously).
At this point, you may be wondering what all this has to do with baseball, but the point will be made shortly. Mr. T also has the letters ‘TCB’ tattooed upon his bicep, an acronym for ‘Taking Care of Business.’ With the Rays having their final four series against the Astros (two), White Sox and Twins, the Rays had to take care of business in order to solidify their spot in the playoff hunt. And take care of business is exactly what they have been doing.
Over the past eleven games against the Astros, White Sox and Twins, the Rays have put together a 10-1 record, feasting upon the weaker clubs as good teams are supposed to do. Prior to this stretch on their schedule, the Rays were sitting at 43-39, lurking on the fringes of the Wild Card chase. Presently, in just over a week and a half, the Rays have gone from six games out of first place and 3.5 games out of the Wild Card to 3.5 games behind the Red Sox for the American League East, and two games up in the Wild Card standings.
Prior to this slate of games, the Rays had the second most difficult schedule in baseball, and had played more games against the highly competitive American League East than any other division. Considering the problems the Rays had with their pitching staff for much of the first two months of the season, the fact that they had managed to tread water over that timeframe was a testament to Joe Maddon and the Rays determination to win.
What the Rays are doing over this stretch is just what playoff teams do – break roughly even against the good teams and beat up on the weaker opponents. These fourteen games may be the catalyst for the Rays to potentially make a run to the postseason.