Streaking Rays approaching record wins

by Gary Shelton on August 13, 2019 · 4 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Rays

Matt Duffy had four hits for the Rays./TIM WIRT

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

When they are on a streak such as this one, your imagination runs away with you.

They are 20 games over .500. They are on an eight-game road winning streak. They had 14 hits Monday night.

And so you ask:

Could this be the best Rays’ team ever?

I know, I know. Now and then, the hitting dries up. Some days, they don’t run the bases well. The recent problems of their bullpen are still memorable.

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Garcia had three hits including a home run./TIM WIRT

But the Rays ran their record to 70-50 in a 10-4 thumping of San Diego Monday night. It’s the third best-record in the history of the Rays after 120 games (the three-quarter mark of the season) after 2010 (74-46) and 2008 (73-47). Despite the injuries to their pitching staff, despite the other problems, the Rays remain a pretty good team.

It is the fifth time in franchise history the Rays have reached 20 games over .500. Tampa Bay reached the post-season all four of those previous seasons.

The Rays led only 3-2 going into the seventh inning, but they scored seven runs in their next two at bats to pull away.

Matt Duffy had four hits for the Rays, and Avi Garcia had three, including a two-run homer. Jesus Aguilar and Willy Adames had two.

“He (Duffy) got it going,” said Rays’ manager Kevin Cash. “The first hit was an infield single and it built off of that. He and Avi had the big days. The big hit was when we had runners on second and third and  (Duffy) comes up and hits the ball over the third baseman’s head. That was huge.

“We know Duff’s capable of putting the bat on the ball. The timing has been a little inconsistent.  That s a matter of just not playing.”

The Rays got four innings from Austin Pruitt (2-0).

“I thought  he did a god job,” Cash said. “He competed well for us. He hasn’t been built up. Certainly, he made big pitches for us.”

The Rays, once again, got a stellar defensive play from centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier to rob Francisco Mejia of a home run.

“It was outstanding,” Cash said. “We’ve seen a lot of them. I’m sure we’ll watch it on the highlights all day tomorrow.”

The Rays play the Padres again tonight at 10:10 p.m. Brendan McKay will start for the Rays against Eric Lauer of San Diego.



{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry Beller August 14, 2019 at 7:37 am

The league has become divided by haves and haves not more than ever before. In 2008 the worst 2 teams in the AL had a winning percentage of .422 (Baltimore) and .377 (Seattle). This year 5 teams are at .415 or much worse with 3 teams below .360. Those 5 teams are easy pickings for good teams (Rays included) and allow them to put up more wins than they could against more balanced competition as there was in 2008. The AL East had 4 teams above .500 in 2008 and this year only 3 with the Red Sox being a weak .500+ team in 2019. At least 2 teams will win more than 100 games this year by beating up on the increased number of inferior teams.

The Rays are putting up a lot of wins with a very flawed team largely because the competition overall is weaker except for those top 2 or 3 teams. I think this year’s team may have more offense than the 2008 team but the pitching and defense is not nearly as good. That’s why when the current Rays team faces good hitting teams they struggle. This year’s team with a mediocre bullpen, lack of starting pitching and no experienced closer can’t be considered in the same class as the 2008 World Series team.

I think we all realize that even if the Rays were to make the playoffs their chances of advancing are not good. Making the playoffs and winning over 90 games would be a great accomplishment but it doesn’t make them the best Rays team ever in my opinion.


Gary Shelton August 14, 2019 at 4:00 pm

I think they’re in the discussion. Heck, we’re discussing it. either way, it’s great to disagree. Again, they’re on at the 3 quarter could be right.

But the 2008 team was flawed, too. Don’t forget that.

I will say this. That team was healthier. Still, it’s a bottom line league. Bottom line is this one had almost as good a record as that one. You can argue all day the ways the league was better or worse. Mist seasons, that evens out.

Again, discussion is great.


Larry Beller August 13, 2019 at 7:51 am

Since you asked the question I would say no, this is not the best Rays team ever. We’ll see how they end up but don’t forget the Rays are currently on a 21 game stretch of playing against bottom feeders. When they play the Yankees, Twins, etc it’s a different story. But there is time to correct that before the season ends and then we can compare records and see how this team stacks up.

There are more bad teams than normal these past couple of years and that has helped the Rays put up more wins than they would have against more balanced competition in the past. Last year’s 90 win team didn’t make the playoffs for that reason. The other good teams were beating up on the same weak teams also so it takes more wins to get in the playoffs these days. The Rays could win even more games this year and still not make the playoffs. But give them credit. They are beating the teams they should beat for the most part and making the race interesting.


Gary Shelton August 13, 2019 at 9:47 am

Fair point. I’d agree these Rays (regardless of their record) come across as a pesky but flawed team. But as you know, most good teams take care of their business against the bad ones, right?

Yes, there were bad teams in 2008 and 2010, too. The Yankees, for instance, weren’t nearly as good in 2008; they were in third place. The Mariners lost 101 games in both seasons. No one in baseball won 100 games either season. In 2008, the Rays beat a bad Baltimore team 15 times. Frankly, I don’t remember either season as being on par with the great ones.

One difference? In 2008, they were 29-18 in one-run games. They’re 14-15 this year. Yet, the overall record is close.

Again, no one is saying this Rays team is World-Series bound (the 2008 team got there), which is the ultimate judge. They certainly aren’t among the best teams the Yankees or Red Sox have had to offer. But they’re within four games of their best record. I think that makes it a discussion, don’t you?

Frankly, the Rays surprised me by having a record close to their best at this point. Their starting pitching has been wrecked, and the hitting fades in and out. But in any season, the league’s overall record is .500. That never changes.


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