The Rays head into Boston tonight for a four game series with an opportunity to leave as the leaders of the AL East.
Sounds familiar right? It seems like the Rays just follow the same script every year now; a slow April start that quickly evolves into a summer hotter than anything the Florida weather can throw at you, leading to a thrilling second half of the season.
You know what else sounds familiar? The combination that has taken the Rays from under .500 just a couple of months ago into a scorching team that has been rapidly catapulting themselves in the division standings. Young arms getting into a groove at the right time, superb defense that finds themselves third in the league in errors since May, and a stud prospect getting his call to the show at the perfect time.
Although it is still only July, the Rays could not have picked a better time for this sudden ascension into an elite ballclub in 2013. With the Blue Jays finally bottoming out, father time catching up to the Yankees, Baltimore (albeit a recent hot streak) faltering here and there, and even mighty Boston struggling with pitching and a small injury plague, the Rays have seemingly picked their spot and are making the most of it. Winners of 13 of the last 14 (20 of the last 24), they are making the statement to never overlook them, no matter what early struggles they may have.
Chris Archer has flourished with the best ERA in the starting rotation (2.76 through July 21), James Loney has been steady with the bat from the get go and hasn’t looked back with a .314 batting average, and Luke Scott is on a supernatural power trip since sporting a rat-tail that draws comparisons to Samson’s mighty hair.
Remember David Price’s 1-4 start? Yeah, me neither. Or Fernando Rodney’s five blown saves in his first 20 appearances? Doesn’t ring a bell either. These Ray seem to have turned the corner and are putting the rest of the baseball world on notice.
2008 was a fun ride, but 2013 is shaping up to be even more exhilarating. Break out the pacemakers Rays’ fans, because business is only beginning to pick up for the second half.