King Kong has nothing on me !
The Tampa Bay Rays(63-52) now seem to be making a credible run as they seek to chase down the AL East division leading New York Yankees (68-47) . Coming off a decisive 4-1 victory over the beleaguered Seattle Mariners , Joe Maddon’s players are now making believers out of the doubters who may well have felt that this team had been left for dead , a little more than a month ago . Having reeled off seven straight victories , the Rays are winners of eight of their last ten games, which is only second to the Washington Nationals’ run of nine of their last ten games in terms of recent winning streaks .
Slide show .
Now while there’s still a great deal to play for between now and the end of the 3rd October which happens to be the final day of the regular season schedule of baseball games . The thought has to be , are the Rays in their current guise , capable of erasing the five game lead currently maintained by the Yankees , and thereby secure , only the baseball-club’s third divisional title in its existence , and the first since 2010 . All of this accredited, and deserved success, has come courtesy of Joe Madden and his coaching staff. At the same time , without the ingenuity and fiscal constraint shown by GM Andrew Friedman , I seriously doubt that the organization would be so resilient and steadfast in their approach. The Rays’ general manager has pared down the payroll and has it within a manageable scope for the ball-club , and to the satisfaction of managing general partner and owner, Stuart Sternberg .
With the recent return of the team’s best player Evan Longoria , from the DL , he seemed to be the individual who has provided the “spark” for the team’s recent run . Apart from the offense now once again shining bright. The contributions of B J Upton, Matt Joyce, Ben Zobrist, Sean Rodriguez , Desmond Jennings and Carlos Pena , have proven to be fortuitous for the team , as they proceed on with their schedule .
However, with the offense now stepping up to the plate , the pitching staff led by David Price , James Shields , Jeremy Hellickson , Matt Moore , Alex Cobb and closer , Fernando Rodney , have simply sought to prove that this team , will no longer lay down , and remain there . Long gone are those days, when the Rays’ teams of old were the doormats of the AL East , as well as the rest of baseball at large . In recent pitching performances it has been the likes of to the likes of Shields, Matt Moore and Price to keep the Rays within distance of the New York Yankees and the rest of the teams within the AL vying for a postseason berth . There’s no denying that with the AL being so contentious , there are an ever-increasing number of scenarios arising as the teams vying for the divisional leads and wildcard berths up for grabs play themselves into contention.
The Rays , today face the Seattle Mariners in the second of a three game set at Safeco Field , in Seattle , Washington , before embarking on another three game series with against the Los Angeles Angels in Los Angeles , California . Those trio of games against the AL West team will begin on begin on the 16th August , with the first of the scheduled three-set series at Angels Ballpark , this upcoming Thursday. >. First, and foremost , today’s game against the Mariners and the rubber game tomorrow have to be the priority for Joe Maddon’s players , if it is their intent to keep up the momentum and pressure on the New York Yankees .
On the mound today for the Rays will be Matt Moore (9-7, 3.73 ERA) against the seasoned veteran Kevin Millwood (4-10, 4.38 ERA) of the Mariners . Not wishing to be complacent but at this juncture , the Tampa Bay Rays can ill afford a slip-up against a team that has struggled for much of the season . If they can add to their recent tally of victories before embarking on the rest of their West Coast sojourn , then it bodes well for their upcoming series against the Los Angeles Angels . . And for Arte Moreno , owner of the Angels , his team is now locked in a close run battle for the AL West , with the Texas Rangers . The winner of the division , could quite possibly be considered as one of the perceived favorites for the World Series within the AL . These two teams have battled each other feverishly over the course of the season , and with both having that propensity for an explosive onslaught in terms of offensive productivity , you can be sure that when they next meet , we are bound to see a number of exhilarating games .
For the most ardent of Tampa Bay Rays’ fans , I have no doubt they are at present reliving memories during the final month of last season , when the team pulled off an improbable series of wins , with the final triumph coming by way of an 8-7 victory over the New York Yankees , that would ensure the ball-club , the wildcard berth in the postseason . And as short as that foray might have been , it simply exemplified why the Rays remained such a resilient team throughout 2011 . From my own perspective , I believe that the Rays’ players would rather avoid a repeat of that suspense , no matter how exciting have been for the fans in attendance in at Tropicana Field , for that memorable night . The events as they were revealed to the fans, were not only awe-inspiring but when it was revealed that the Boston Red Sox had succumbed to the Baltimore Orioles —- 4-3 , in a defeat that completely deflated the Red Sox fans and their ambitions for the postseason . The thunderous bellows of Rays’ fans being overjoyed and excited, was simply beyond belief. The rest as they say history , and for a Red Sox team that went 7-21 in the final month of their regular season schedule , while still expecting to make the postseason. Well , apart from the complacency and conceitedness shown , it is my belief , that this was a fitting way for Boston Red Sox’s season to end , with an implosion of unbelievable ineptitude exhibited by everyone associated with the organization !
Picture gallery .
The AL East as a division , is one that I firmly believe is within the grasp of the Tampa Bay Rays , that is if they have the hunger to overcome the obstacles placed within their way ! Those impediments would have to be specifically the Yankees within the division , and among the wildcard aspirants , the Baltimore Orioles , Oakland A’s , Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Angels . There is still a great deal to play for , as the final third of the regular season comes into play , and I have no doubt the Rays will seek to position themselves for that stretch run . Chances are , by no later than 1st October we may have an idea who will be within earshot winning the AL East . What thoughts if any do you have with regard to the points raised within this article ? By all means chime with a comment as you see fit .
Picture and slide show details below .
(2) Tampa Bay Rays’ Ryan Roberts , right, is tagged out by Seattle Mariners’ Brendan Ryan , left, after Roberts was caught stealing second base in the seventh inning of a baseball game, Monday, Aug. 13, 2012, in Seattle. AP Photo/Ted S. Warren …
(3) Tampa Bay Rays’ B.J. Upton is greeted in the visitors dugout after he hit a two-run home run against the Seattle Mariners in the third inning of a baseball game, Monday, Aug. 13, 2012, in Seattle. The Tampa Bay Rays would go on to defeat the Mariners 4-1 . AP Photo/Ted S. Warren ..
(4) ST. PETERSBURG, FL – AUGUST 9: Designated hitter Evan Longoria (3) of the Tampa Bay Rays bats against the Toronto Blue Jays August 9, 2012 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images …
(5) Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price follows through on a pitch against the Minnesota Twins in the first inning of a baseball game Saturday, Aug. 11, 2012 in Minneapolis. Price picked up his 15th win as the Rays beat the Twins 4-2 . AP Photo/Jim Mone ……
(6) Pitching coach Jim Hickey (48) of the Tampa Bay Rays talks with pitcher Matt Moore (55) and catcher Jose Lobaton (21) during the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field on August 3, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ..
p> (7) New York Yankees’ Nick Swisher , right, celebrates his grand slam with Mark Teixeira during the third inning of the baseball game against the Texas Rangers Monday, Aug. 13, 2012 at Yankee Stadium in New York. AP Photo/Seth Wenig …