Rays News

Series Preview: Tampa Bay Rays host Astros to start 2019

By Rylan Stiles
ST PETERSBURG, FL - JULY 1: Charlie Morton #50 of the Houston Astros throws a pitch in the second inning against the Tampa Bay Rays on July 1, 2018 at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
ST PETERSBURG, FL - JULY 1: Charlie Morton #50 of the Houston Astros throws a pitch in the second inning against the Tampa Bay Rays on July 1, 2018 at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /
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Tampa Bay Rays
PORT CHARLOTTE, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 17: Kevin Kiermaier #39 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during photo day on February 17, 2019 in Port Charlotte, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

What does it matter? It is only the first four games?

Yes, I can already hear these comments coming both after positive and negative plays and games.

Sure, baseball is a 162 grind as we have already mentioned in this article. Every team will go through a bad stretch of games during the Major League Baseball season, it is enviable. The season is just too long, and too draining to be on your game 162 times and never falter for a week or so.

However, you never want that stretch to come at the start of the year, or you are playing catchup from the word go.

The Tampa Bay Rays could win the division this year, heck, the Miami Marlins could win the division this year, there has only been a couple AL West games play at this time.

However, I think even the most optimistic Tampa Bay Rays fans will concede that this year is not about chasing down the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox (though that would be nice) it is about flagging down that second Wild Card spot in the American League.

No one will be shocked, or alter their enthusiasm, or expectations if the Tampa Bay Rays lose this series to the Houston Astros. The Astros are a phenomenal team that is in store for a cakewalk to a division title and some of the best odds in baseball in terms of winning the World Series on paper.

That right there is why this series matters so much. Not just in the sense of getting the season off on the right foot, compared to last year when the team struggled out of the gate.

It matters in the sense of “stealing games.” We all expect the Tampa Bay Rays to handle teams like the Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, and so on.

But if they can steal a few games against the one percent of baseball, and not just beat the middle class and below, the win total will skyrocket.

A year ago against playoff teams, the Tampa Bay Rays finished with a 31-31 record.

In the first series of the year in March ahead of April (as this series is) the Tampa Bay Rays fell to the eventual World Series Champion Red Sox in the series. The Rays ended March with a 1-2 record a year ago, and finish April with a 12-12 record last year. The start of the season is very important.

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