Can Rays outlast the A’s, Indians for the wild card?

by Gary Shelton on September 17, 2019 · 0 comments

in general

Morton needs to be terrific./TIM WIRT

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

They have 11 games left to play.

Just to be safe, they need to win about 15 of them.

They are at the finish line now, these Rays. After all the good moments, and all of the bad ones, they will go into this mini-stretch run with a chance. Perhaps that's all you could ask for , and perhaps you could ask for more. Perhaps you could ask them to pull this thing out.

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Meadows needs to stay hot./CHUCK MULLER

Oh, let's face it. The advantage is with the Oakland A's, if you're honest.  The A's have the lead, and they have the easiest schedule, and they have the most power of any of the three teams in the race.

The Rays? Over the season haul, they have the best pitching of the three. But there were moments this year when the bullpen imploded, and moments when the starting pitching came up lame.

And Cleveland. Right now, the Indians are third. But things can change in a hurry. No one is volunteering to go home yet.

The odds say they will finish this way. The A's are awfully hot, and they don't have much of a schedule with Kansas City, Texas, Anaheim and Seattle. Against those four teams, the As are 34-18 this season.

Cleveland doesn't play a great slate, either. They Indians have Detroit, Philly, Chicago and Washington. They're 22-10 (they have yet to play either Philly or Washington).

And the Rays? The Rays face the Dodgers, the Red Sox, the Yankees and Toronto. The Rays are 27-23 against that bunch this season.

Think about it. The four remaining opponents for the A's have won 259 games this year (less than 65 per team).  The Indians opponents have won 269 games (a little over 67).

The Rays? Their opponents have won 333 games, including 98 by the Yankees and 97 by the Dodgers. Clearly, it looks uphill for the Rays.

Then there is this: They Rays have overcome their home-field advantage in six games against the Sox and Yankees. They're just 43-32 this year at home. That's where they have play against the defending champion Red Sox and the Yankees.

The Rays biggest problem going into the last 11, of course, is it's pitching. Charlie Morton is probably the best pitcher any of the three teams have, but both Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow are working their pitch-counts up. That leaves the team depending on Ryan Yarbrough and volunteers.

If you're Oakland, power is one of the reasons you feel good about your chances. Cleveland has 208 homers, and Tampa Bay has 199. But Oakland has 244. The A's have three batters with more than 30 mores, and three more with more than 20.

Is it doable? The Rays' best players have to be terrific. Meadows needs to stay hot. Tommy Pham needs to keep scowling. Travis d'Arnaud needs to keep his memorable season alive.

After that, the Rays need to find themselves a hero, a bottom of the order guy (Kevin Kiermaier, Willy Adames) to get surprisingly hot.

Can they do it?

If they want anyone to remember this season at all, what other choice to they have?


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