It’s now August and the Tampa Bay Rays (54-55) are still playing .500 baseball. It is what it is at this point and the Rays need to step it up if they want to be playing baseball in October. The Rays were able to take the series in Chicago this week against the White Sox (51-55) to get back to .500 by winning both games on Monday and Tuesday. Tampa Bay dropped the day game on Wednesday though as Erasmo Ramirez gave up five early runs. The always fighting Rays never gave up and rallied to tie it and force extra innings before Boxberger walked in the winning run in the 10th inning.
It was another day at the office for Archer on Tuesday but that wasn’t the story as the Rays had an offensive explosion with 11 runs on Tuesday. Nathan Karns looked awesome only giving up two runs on Monday and the Rays took the back and forth victory thanks to Mikie Mahtook with a clutch single in the ninth inning. Steve Geltz blew the game on Monday but it was Grady Sizemore to the rescue with a solo shot to tie the game the next inning. This allowed the Rays to edge their way into a ninth inning victory. The Rays had just lost the series last weekend to the last place Red Sox (47-60) in Boston. On Sunday, Jake Odorizzi looked solid against the Red Sox which helped the Rays to take the final game of the series which jump started the Rays to a three-game win streak. Tampa Bay managed seven runs on Saturday evening but it still wasn’t enough to collect the victory. Steven Souza Jr. landed on the DL with a fractured hand on Saturday evening. Matt Moore struggled on Saturday off the mound and was sent down to Triple A Durham following the game. Moore just hasn’t got it together since coming back from Tommy John Surgery. He has had six starts with the Rays but needs more time to develop his game.Drew Smyly should be able to take his place in the rotation in the next two weeks though. Smyly should return to the starting rotation in mid-August which is hopefully just in time for a playoff push.
Desmond Jennings will be returning soon as well which will be nice since Souza just went down . This team did not make a splash before the trade deadline but they did deal two veterans in David DeJesus and Kevin Jepsen. Neither were part of this teams long term plan. Signing David DeJesus in the offseason to a three-year deal does make this trade seem a little silly as all they got in return were a pair of minor league pitchers. Steve Geltz will step into Kevin Jepsen’s role and he definitely did not seize that moment on Monday in Chicago. At least the Rays did not send out one of their better pitchers in Nathan Karns who was in the trade talks as well. The pitching staff of the Tampa Bay Rays continues to dominate but again it’s this lack luster offense. If this team wants to make a run into the playoffs they are going to have to do it in August because in August the Rays have a much easier schedule than September.
Evan Longoria is the leader of this organization and he is going to have to carry this team offensively because nobody else but Logan Forysthe seem to be swinging the bat. Forsythe collected seven RBI’s this past week and leads the team in home runs and runs knocked in. Tampa Bay got Asdrubal Cabrera back from the DL recently which is always good as the Rays have one of the best infields in the league. Cabrera helped bring the Rays to victory on Sunday afternoon and had four hits on Wednesday. He has been seeing the ball very well as of late. The American League East isn’t getting any worse as the Toronto Blue Jays (56-52) just traded for former Ray’s ace David Price. Price is now back in the AL East and the Rays will see him again in September. The Rays have a tough schedule in September as most of the teams are within the division. The New York Yankees are still in first place and it is going to be a dogfight till the end to catch them. The Rays play the Yankees six more times so the opportunity to gain ground will always be there. Rays batters must start hitting though if this team wants a chance to win. You need to start sweeping and taking each series from here on out. Curt Casali had an outbreak last week with six home runs in eight at bats but you can’t have pitchers hitting home runs and winning games for you. The problem remains with the offense.
The Rays are eight games back behind the Yankees for the division but are definitely in the chase Wild Card race as they are 2.5 games back of the second Wild Card. Tampa Bay needs to focus on winning the division though as they don’t only want to play for the Wild Card position. Then Yankees (60-45) are going to have to lose some games to help out the Rays. Tampa Bay is (27-25) on the road compared to (27-30) at Tropicana Field. Richie Shaffer was called up to the big leagues on Sunday after the Rays won. He is the Rays big slugging prospect Tampa Bay had drafted in the first round. The Rays have been waiting for him so it will be good for Shaffer to get some time at the plate in the bigs. He can play first base, third and even outfield. His first hit came on Tuesday and it landed over the fence against the Chicago White Sox after striking out twice in his MLB debut on Monday. Mahtook was sent down on Wednesday at the Rays claimed outfielder Daniel Nava from waivers. The Rays will head home to face off against the New York Mets (57-50) this weekend as Jake Odorizzi will take the hill.