12 September 2011

Can the Rays Catch the Red Sox?

Following a strong pitching performance from James Shields on Sunday, the Tampa Bay Rays completed a three game sweep of the Boston Red Sox and have now pulled to 3.5 games behind the Red Sox in the Wild Card standings, a little more than a month from being behind the New York Yankees in the Wild Card standings. Can the Rays possibly pass the Red Sox and make the playoffs?
The Rays have been carried by their pitching this season, particularly that of their ace Shields, who has consistently pitched deep into games this season. They are going to need their pitching to be clicking the rest of the way if they want to the chase down the Sox. Meanwhile the Sox have lost nine out of 11 this month and they desperatly need to get back on track as either their pitching has been whacked or their offense has been missing. Either way, Terry Francona can't afford to let the Rays gain more ground.
These two clubs will meet in a four game set starting this Thursday which will most likely either knock out the Rays or keep the race going. The Rays have a three game series beforehand with the Orioles and the Red Sox have a two game series with the Blue Jays before the showdown. That gives the advantage to the Rays to make up more ground before the two teams clash at Fenway considering how awful the Orioles are and how the Red Sox have struggled with Toronto of late.
If I had to put money on a club it would be Boston, I just can't imagine that team falling apart and having the four games series with Tampa Bay at home is a big advantage. That said, the Rays will not go away quietly.

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