The schedule gets trickier for the Tampa Bay Rays

by Gary Shelton on July 27, 2017 · 0 comments

in Baseball, general, Tampa Bay Rays

Dickerson needs to get hot again for the Rays./CARMEN MANDATO

Dickerson needs to get hot again for the Rays./CARMEN MANDATO

Thursday, 3 a.m.

For the Tampa Bay Rays, this may be where the wildcard is won. Or lost.

The water is about to get deep … and treacherous. There are sharks and barracuda, crocodiles and sea snakes. This is where a team gets hot, or where it gets left behind.

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The Rays need for Morrisoin to finish strong./STEVE MUNCIE

The Rays need for Morrison to finish strong./STEVE MUNCIE

For the Rays, the next 17 games are against the big boys of baseball. There is no more frolicking around with bottom-dwellers like the A's and Angels.

Consider this:

Four games against the Yankees, the second-place team from the American League East.

Four games against the Astros, the best team of the American League West.

Three games against Milwaukee, a half-game behind in the NL Central.

Two games against the Red Sox, the best team from the American League East.

Three games against Cleveland, in first place in the American League Central.

It's a murderer's row of a schedule, 17 games against teams who are a combined 63 games over .500.

Are the Rays really one of the surprise teams of major league baseball? Are they just short of a playoff-level team? The next 17 games will help to decide.

For the Rays, the timing of the schedule is mixed. The Rays are getting good starting pitching (a 3.96 ERA, second in the American League, but the hitters who have carried them so far – Corey Dickerson (zero for his last 14) and Logan Morrison (one for his last 16) – are both fighting it a bit.

The Rays have gone 13-4-4 over their last 21 series, a battle plan that has the team just outside of Kansas City for the second wild-card spot.

Let's be honest. Even when the Rays get to the other side of this run, it won't be easy. The Rays have games against Seattle, Kansas City, St. Louis, Minnesota, the Yankees, the Red Sox and the Cubs (among others).

But if the Rays are going to win it, they need to get hot now. Big bats wait for them. Good arms. Sharp defenses.

If the Rays can match their opponents, they've got a shot.

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