Tampa Bay ranks near the bottom of the majors with a .241 batting average, but has hit .381 with nine homers while holding a 43-13 scoring advantage during its four-game run. Jennings is 8 for 18 with five RBI during that stretch while Longoria is 6 for 15.
43 runs in four days. Let me repeat that; 43 runs in four days. Tampa Bay has certainly adopted an all or nothing attitude since the middle of their previous series against the Red Sox, with the offense taking no prisoners, while they continue to make their case with concerns to the postseason.
Thanks to a Rays and Yankees win yesterday, the good guys are now only 3.5 games back in the wildcard race. With a Rays, Red Sox, and Yankees win today, Tampa Bay will be 2.5 back in the wildcard race, and 5.5 behind the Orioles in the east. And frankly, I don’t care who the Rays overtake in the wildcard race, as long as they overtake someone. What exactly has changed in the last week to again make the Rays relevant? Two words: Offensive production.
Consider that Tampa Bay posted a .222 BA/.304 OBP/.360 SLG/.664 OPS/.264 BABIP/.295 wOBA line in the 14 days previous to this series. Compare that with the .274 BA/.353 OBP/.466 SLG/.819 OPS/.303 BABIP/.355 wOBA line that they’ve put together in the last seven days, and it’s easy to understand why they’re making a solid case. And it bears mentioning that the 43 runs the Rays have scored since Wednesday, are their most ever in a four-game span. Whoa.
I’ll make no allusion to the fact that the Rays will cool down offensively. After all, they’re not a team that consistently averages 10-run per game. However, if they can average at least five runs a game, while the pitchers do what they do best, we’re looking at a team that will continue to make a run for the playoffs. I must also say that looking at the leader-board (below) over the last seven days is pretty darned awesome!
Can they stay consistent? Here’s to hope. The games today, Tuesday, and Wednesday against the Jays and Red Sox are definitely winnable ones. The upcoming four games against a slumping (yet still dangerous) White Sox are the ones that scare me. Tampa Bay is 0-3 against the White Sox so far in the season series, having been outscored 13-6. But as they say in What About Bob? Baby steps, and it all begins today.
Rays 9/23/12 Starting Lineup
Noteworthiness: Today marks Vogt’s first big-league start behind plate. He holds the team record 0-for-19 streak to start career as a hitter. On one hand, he’s due. On the other hand…