Tampa Bay Rays: The Last Time the Rays Had a 2-11 Stretch
Tampa Bay Rays fans are at their wits’ ends. The Rays went from leading the AL East to collapsing entirely, going 2-11 in their last 13 games. Their starting pitching has been good, but everything else has fallen apart. They haven’t been scoring runs, their bullpen has been a disaster, and their defense has been nothing to write home about. Now the Rays are just 1 game over .500, and given how they have been playing lately, we can’t imagine that they will be hovering around that record for long. Their season is in free-fall with no signs of slowing down.
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However, the one reason for optimism becomes apparent when we compare the Rays’ current predicament to the last time they had a streak this bad. We don’t have to go back very far–this isn’t one of those things that hasn’t happened since the Devil Rays years. Last season, from May 26th to June 10th, the Rays lost 15 of 16 games. After the last of those games, a 1-0 defeat where Adam Wainwright out-dueled Jake Odorizzi in Odorizzi’s best career start to that point, the Rays’ record stood at 24-42. They were 15 games back in the AL East, 11 games back in the Wild Back, and held the worst record in baseball by four full games.
When they finally found themselves, it was too late. We know how incredible of a run they went on, winning 29 of their next 41 games, a ridiculous .707 winning percentage. Two weeks later, they became just the fourth team in baseball history to return to .500 after being 18 games under at any point in the year. However, they never got closer than 6.5 games back in the AL East. Their quest was exciting and gave Rays fans something to watch in a season that had been so hopeless, but the probability of them making the playoffs was always minuscule.
Right now, however, the Tampa Bay Rays have lost 11 of their last 13 games, but they are just 3 games back in the AL East and 2 games back in the Wild Card. Their play has been unbelievably bad, but we know that they are exponentially better than this. If they can start demonstrating that anytime soon, they will be fine. The Rays don’t need a miracle to overcome this–they just need to get back to solid play, and they will be in this race all the way to the end. Even a run half as impressive as what they did last season could be enough to win the division.
Maybe this Rays team truly is flawed and won’t go anywhere. But don’t say that yet. Don’t give up until the standings start actually saying that the Rays are out of it. Right now, with the help of an AL East division that is stronger than expected but is still far from a force, the Rays are still clearly in thick of things. If they play poorly the rest of the season, that won’t matter. That being said, if this is an aberration and the turnaround is coming, then this disastrous stretch won’t mean much in the Rays’ quest to make the playoffs.