What is it about the professional sports teams in the Tampa Bay area? When it comes to scoring it seems that as of late neither the Bucs nor the Rays, know how it is done. Well after losing last night to Texas 7-1, the Rays find themselves tied, again with Texas for the top Wild Card playoff spot in the American League.
Memo to the Rays – YOU CAN’ T WIN IF YOU DO NOT SCORE RUNS!!!! Tampa Bay’s offense has shown signs of life recently but consistently putting runs on the board is a must if the Rays are going to play October baseball.
A quick check of the standing this morning shows that Texas and Tampa Bay hold the two Wild Card playoff spots with 11 games left in the 2013 regular season. Cleveland is just a half game back, followed closely by Baltimore, who is 2 games out then comes the Yankees and the Royals standing just 3.5 games off the pace.
Tonight in game three of a four game set with the Rangers at Tropicana Field – the Rays will send one of their best young arms to the mound in rookie Chris Archer (9-7, 3.03 ERA). He earned his ninth victory in throwing six shutout innings vs. the Twins on Friday. The rookie struck out seven and didn’t walk anybody. Archer has continued the Rays’ trend of producing high-functioning rookie pitchers.
The Rangers will counter with Derek Holland ( 9-9, 3.49 ERA), he is coming off his shortest start this season, pitching three innings against the A’s on Friday. Now for some good news for the Rays offense – Holland is 0-3 with a 10.13 ERA in three September starts and a .379 opponents’ batting average.
That means the Rays must win this series, a split will likely keep them in at least the final Wild Card spot and more importantly, still in control of their own destiny. However, should they lose these next two games, at home, at the Trop to the Rangers, then there could be problems.
They could get passed by the Indians and they still face the – hard charging – Orioles for a three game set this weekend as they play their final regular season games at home. Again, as I have been telling you all week the Rays route to the playoffs is simple – keep winning series – the other teams are chasing you. The last thing you want with so few games left on the schedule is to rely on other teams to lose so that you can make it to the playoffs.
So for the Rays it is simple, keep winning series and you are in…Sounds simple but if they truly a playoff team – and I think they are – then you need to head into the playoffs playing your best baseball and that means winning.