Last night at a steamy Camden Yard here in Baltimore the Rays beat the Orioles 7-4 while the Red Sox were losing to the Giants 3-2. Tampa Bay leads Boston by percentage points .581 to .578, in the race for first place in the American League East. Meanwhile the Yankees swept a doubleheader from the Blue Jays, putting them just a game behind Baltimore.
Last night’s game had the feel of a playoff game as the Rays Alex Cobb pitched a gem, allowing just three hits over six-plus innings. Going into the 9th inning the Rays were holding on to a 3-2 lead before the flood gates opened and washed the Orioles away.
The Rays came through with the bases loaded in the top of the ninth on Matt Joyce’s two-run double off T.J. McFarland, giving Tampa Bay a 5-2 lead. Wil Myers’ two-run single against Jim Johnson gave the Rays a five-run cushion.
The Birds catcher Matt Wieters hit his third homer in four games and his fourth in his past seven games, a two-run shot off
Rays reliever Wesley Wright in the ninth. But it was too little, too late as Tampa Bay went to their closer Fernando Rodney prevented further damage, retiring all three hitters he faced in the ninth, securing his 29th save of the season.
Tampa Bay goes for the sweep tonight as they send Jeremy Hellickson to the mound while Baltimore will counter with Wei-Yin Chen. Game time at Camden Yard will be 7 p.m. and this becomes a must win game for the Birds, because come up fast are the New York Yankees.
A Rays win over Orioles combined with a Yankees victory over the Blue Jays would see Baltimore and New York tied for 3rd place. That is great news for the Rays because the bigger the mess behind you the better off it is to make this a two team race in the AL East between Tampa Bay and Boston.
Baltimore, New York, Oakland, Cleveland and Kansas City are all fighting for the last AL Wild Card spot. So, if the Rays take care of their own business, i.e. beating Boston while playing solid baseball on the road and continue to play well at home and they are in the playoffs.
The good news is that the five teams behind the Raus in race for October baseball will take themselves out of the running. The key now for Tampa Bay is just keep focus and stay away from losing streaks, that is what has Baltimore fading fast in the East.