The Rays 12 inning, 4-3, walk -off win over the Texas Rangers was important on many levels but here are the two key reasons. First, they now are alone in the top AL Wild Card spot, which would mean they would host the play in game.
But the second reason is just as important-the Rays go into their final 10 games of the 2013 regular season in complete control of their own Wild Card Playoff destiny.
With Tampa Bay in the number playoff spot, everyone else are chasing the Rangers first, at least for today. The Rays have to keep winning and it starts again tonight at Tropicana Field in the final regular season meeting with Texas. It will be another playoff type game with two outstanding pitchers going head to head.
The Rays will send Matt Moore ( 15-3, 3.11 ERA) to the mound tonight. He was in position to earn his 16th win of the season, but a 124-minute rain delay ended his night Saturday vs. the Twins after just three innings of work. Moore gave up just one hit, struck out five and walked three in his rain-shortened start.
Meanwhile, the Rangers Yu Darvish (12-9, 2.79 ERA) will be facing the Rays tonight. He is still their ace and he became the first pitcher in Major League Baseball with as many as four 1-0 losses in a season since Orel Hershiser in 1989. He allowed one run in seven innings against the A’s and got the loss because of the lack of offense.
So tonight will be the first of a number of epic battles the Rays must fight over the next 10 games.
Starting tomorrow the Rays will open a rare Friday through Monday, four game series with the Baltimore Orioles who as of this morning trail the Rangers for the final Wild Card Playoff spot by just one game. The series with the O’s is the final part of the home season for 2013.
Next week the Rays close the regular season on the road with a pair of three game series. First they are in New York to face the Yankees and then they close the regular season in Toronto next weekend against the Jays.
The key the rest of the way out for the Rays is to just win, they don’t have to win every game to keep that number one Wild Card Playoff spot but they do have to keep winning series. The most important thing for Tampa Bay is build some momentum as they head into the post-season.