Heading into this weekend, the Rays controlled their own destiny. Fresh off sweeps of both the Orioles and the Yankees, they appeared to have all the momentum on their side heading into their three game series with the Blue Jays. A win coupled with a loss by the Rangers, and the Rays were in.
Instead, disaster. With nothing to play for other than to play the role of spoilers, the Blue Jays took the first two games from the Rays as the bullpen imploded. Faced with a win or go home scenario, the Rays jumped out early, but saw their bullpen come perilously close to coughing up the lead.
However, the Rays managed to hold on, remaining alive for another day as they forced a one game playoff with those same Rangers. Yet, do the Rays have any momentum heading into that matchup? After scoring six runs in a much needed offensive outburst in the first inning, the Rays had a 7-0 lead heading into the sixth inning.
Then, the Rays almost found themselves with another disaster. Matt Moore, who had been cruising along, started to get hit by the Blue Jays, giving up two runs on four consecutive hits. In came Jake McGee, who allowed an inherited runner to score before giving up a run of his own. Joel Peralta, who had been one of the more reliable relievers for the Rays for most of the season, allowed how more runs in the eighth, as he appeared to have virtually nothing left.
While any win certainly helps, one has to wonder how much momentum can be taken from this game. Yes, the Rays offense came to life, but can the bullpen be trusted? Fernando Rodney was able to get a four out save today, but gave up three hits and a walk. Can he be trusted to get the save in a playoff game? Peralta has been shaky during the month of September, giving up eight runs in 13.1 innings. McGee has essentially done nothing but throw fastballs all season, which has hindered his effectiveness. Even Alex Torres has not been the same pitcher he was during his impressive run after being called up.
Yes, the Rays got a win that they badly needed to force a playoff game. However, with the way that the game ended, whatever momentum the Rays had may have disappeared. Wherever that momentum went, the Rays need to find it again soon, otherwise there may not be another tomorrow.