The Tampa Bay Rays are in the middle of the season’s most important road trip. An eight-game road trip through Toronto and Boston wrapping up on Wednesday.
These games are not against the dregs of the American League. Instead, these games are against teams that the Rays compete against for a playoff spot. Thus the added importance of this road trip.
This trip takes on added importance as the calendar has turned to July. The Rays are in fourth place in the American League East and trail second-place Boston by two games and third-place Toronto by a half-game.
After looking like a Major League offense for three games in Toronto, the offense went cold in Boston, collecting just two hits in the 4-0 loss on Monday afternoon.
The Rays cannot afford a disastrous road trip. But, on the other hand, another mediocre trip or a below .500 record could significantly impact this team’s postseason chances.
After two uninspiring losses in the first two games in the Toronto series, the Rays bats came alive, putting together their best two consecutive games offensively this season.
After being outscored 13-3 in the first two games in the series, Ray’s bats came alive on Saturday. In the day-night doubleheader, the Rays scored 17 runs in the two games as they beat the Blue Jays 6-2 and 11-5.
Shane McClanahan, who has been one of the best pitchers in baseball the first three months of the season, struck out ten in seven innings, allowing one run as he earned his ninth win of the season and lowered his ERA to 1.74.
Isaac Paredes homered in both games giving him a team-leading 13 on the season. Wander Franco also got in on the home run as he hit his fifth of the season in the 6-2 win.
Francisco Meija hit two home runs, his fourth and fifth of the season, in the second game as the Rays collected 14 hits.
Drew Rasmussen returned from the DL to start the second game and worked four and two-thirds innings, with two strikeouts giving up two runs.
Rays manager Kevin Cash was pleased with the offensive output. “We need to see everybody (hit)in the lineup. This group of guys is totally capable of contributing. You’re not going to have every guy hitting at one time, but the way it’s been going, it’s refreshing that everybody got a hit, found a way to get on base. And we’d like to see it continue to carry over.”
The offense banged out 28 hits in the two games Saturday.
The Rays continued to produce on Sunday as they beat the Blue Jays 7-3 to win three out of five in Toronto.
Monday afternoon saw the offense revert to its old ways as Yandy Diaz and Wander Franco were the only batters to get hits against three Boston pitchers as the Rays were shutout 4-0.
If the offense cannot get it together, they are in danger of missing the postseason for the first time since 2019.
If not for having one of the top pitching staffs in baseball, the Rays would have been out of contention for a wild card spot long ago.
The Rays are now 3-3 on the road trip with two more against the Red Sox before coming home to Play Cincinnati this weekend.