On June 22, the Tampa Bay Rays were in last place in the AL East. Joe Maddon and his squad were six games out in the division and behind all four division-foes, plus were four back in the Wild Card race but that was with five teams to catch and surpass. In the 20 games that have followed this team has ripped of an impressive 16-4 run including a 4-3 win over the Houston Astros in Saturday MLB matinee action. This run has the Rays up to second place in the division, and they are currently one of the two Wild Card teams in the American League. Wow.
You would think this sort of charge would have the likes of Evan Longoria, Matt Joyce and Ben Zobrist leading the way but these three have struggled somewhat in July. On Saturday, it was Luke Scott carrying the offense, and he has been on fire during this Rays run. Scott collected hits 17 and 18 during this run, and James Loney has had a whopping eight multi-hit games during this stretch too. These two, plus Yunel Escobar, have been carrying the offense and providing the key hits for Maddon’s club. I should add Desmond Jennings to the mix too as he has been setting the table very well at the top of that lineup. Rookie Wil Myers struggled to open July, but he has seven hits in his last 15 at-bats including a solid two-for-four with a pair of runs scored on Saturday afternoon.
Saturday’s starting pitcher, Roberto Hernandez, is 0-2 during the Rays run, but in those loses Tampa Bay totaled one measly run. Matt Moore has righted his ship and is 4-0 during this 16-4 stretch, plus David Price is back from injury and has been very effective too. Jeremy Hellickson has been hotter during this 20 game run than at any other point of the season as he is 3-0 since June 22. Add in rookie Chris Archer who is 2-0 lately and we see all kinds of peeps contributing on the mound for the Rays.
The Rays were my preseason pick to represent the AL in the World Series and these past three weeks have been a wonderful time for this team. I almost have to wonder if Maddon and his staff wish there was no All-Star break as they surely want to ride this momentum (article on how ridiculous it is that All-Star game has relevance/meaning is HERE)