It was a good weekend for the Tampa Bay Rays even if no one was there to see it. The Rays took three of four from the Boston Red Sox and and now have a half game lead on Cleveland for the final wildcard spot. The Rays also gained a half game on the Oakland A’s and trail the A’s by a game and a half for the top wildcard spot.
The Rays are playing competitive baseball and in the middle of a playoff race did not draw 20,000 to one game over the weekend. The Rays had two crowds of over 17,000 on two days and drew over 18,000 on Saturday night. An embarrassing low crowd of 8700 was on hand to witness the finale of the four game series on Monday Night.
It will be embarrassing for the Rays to host a wild card or playoff game with the upper deck open and Tropicana Field will be only half full.
Blake Snell was the opener in last nights game as he pitched an inning and two thirds giving up one run while striking out three. Snell is coming back from elbow surgery and since there is no place for him to do his rehab in the minor leagues, the Rays are limiting his pitch count as he builds his arm strength back up while the Rays are in te midst of a playoff push.
It looked like the Rays would lose the finale of the four game set as they quickly fell behind 4-0.
But the Rays seem to know what’s at stake and the bats came alive in the bottom of the fourth as Ji-Man Choi hit his 17th home of the season followed by a Willy Adames homer his 20th of the year and the Rays took a 6-4 lead and never looked back.
Kevin Cash seemed to push all the right buttons from the fifth inning on as Nick Anderson, Diego Castillo, Emilio Pagan, and Colin Poche were able to keep the Red Sox in check the rest of the way in the 7-4 win.
It’s going to take that kind of performance from the bullpen and the timely hitting by the offense if the Rays are going to play into late October.
About a month ago the number of wins needed to secure a wild card spot was thought to be around 95. Now it’s looking like it may take 97 or even 98 wins to get that last wild card spot.
It just goes to show you how good the completion has been in the American League for a playoff spot. Four of the five playoff teams could have 100 wins which would be a first in the wildcard era.
The Rays will close out the home portion of the schedule with a brief two game set against the New York Yankees.
Brendan McKay and Charlie Morton will start the two games for the Rays.