After last night’s win, Johnny Damon was being interviewed on TV and he mentioned that there were 39 games left and “that if somehow would could win 30…” Woah. That’s quite an ambitious statement for a team to go play 21 games over .500 over 39 games when they’ve only played 11 games over .500 over 123 games. If you break that down further, if the Rays did win 30 of 39 over the next month and a half, they would finish with 97 wins. The two teams that the Rays are chasing, the Yankees and the Red Sox, would have to go 21-18 and 21-17 respectively to also reach 97 wins. Both the Yankees and the Red Sox are currently playing above that pace, so it is possible that if the Rays won 97 games, they would still finish in third place. That is a pretty solid argument for the inclusion of a second wild card.
The schedule plays a big part in these possibilities.
With the Rays playing the Yankees and Red Sox seven more times each, they could easily bring the those teams back to them. New York and Boston also play each other six more times, so if Boston continues their dominance of the Yankees, that would also help the Rays.
This stretch won’t be easy (even if the Rays didn’t have to win better than three fourths of their games.. The Rays have one of the most difficult schedules left of any team. Not only do they have a lot of games left against Boston and New York, but they also play the other first place teams in the American League a lot. Detroit comes into Tropicana Field for four games next week and the Rays still have six more games against Texas. Their only “breather” after this series against the Mariners is six games against the Orioles.
Is Johnny Damon’s plan possible? Yes, anything in baseball is possible, especially with an extremely starting rotation which is not only shutting down opposing offenses, but pitching deep into games. The bullpen should be plenty rested and hopefully effective in the upcoming games. The bats will have to pick it up as well.