The Rays may not be in the playoff hunt, but they will have an effect on it. The race in the AL East and for the Wild Card is still close and the Rays will be playing those participants in the last 19 games of the season. The Rays start last stretch of the season this evening with the AL East leading Red Sox and get to play them in a 3 game set at home later.
The AL East race is close with the Red Sox leading the hard charging Yankees by 5 1/2. The Yankees are the wild card leader at the moment over Detroit by 4 and Seattle by 5. The Rays will play those Mariners in a four game set after their series in Boston. After the road trip the Rays will come back and play the Sox and than finish the home stand against the Yankees. The Rays can make or break some of these races if they start to take games and series.
The Rays have been playing very well recently and have had their best 40 game stretch in the history of the team. The bullpen has been solid and the starters have been dominant at times. The hitting has been on fire ever since the meeting they had after a dismal game against the A's and the Rays are showing everyone what many of us have been saying for a while, the future is very bright. The Rays have not lost a series since they played at Boston in the middle of August. This is not the same team that played in that series and the Sox should be ready for that. Scott Kazmir has dominated the Sox over his career and has held David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez in check throughout his career. The Mariners are running out of chances and while the Rays have not played well on the road in the past they are coming off of consecutive road series victories and will be a formidable opponent for them.
The Rays are not playing for the playoffs, but they may be playing for something more important and that is to show fans that they are going in the right direction. So far the Rays have given the fans something to be optimistic about and the fans have responded with showing up. The Rays fans showed up in pretty good numbers last Saturday during football season against a bad Toronto team. The momentum the Rays are building will have fans talking and caring about them in the off season. The Rays players are playing for themselves and the fans, which makes them more dangerous than the other teams that barley missed out of the playoffs. This run could give the Rays a taste of what it is like in a pennant chase and many of the teams they are playing will be wishing they are playing someone else.