Tampa Bay Rays’ postseason push

Will this be a September to remember?

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Tampa Bay Rays’ postseason push

The Rays celebrate Tommy Pham’s walk off hit versus Baltimore on September 2nd.

The Rays celebrate Tommy Pham’s walk off hit versus Baltimore on September 2nd.

The Rays celebrate Tommy Pham’s walk off hit versus Baltimore on September 2nd.

The Rays celebrate Tommy Pham’s walk off hit versus Baltimore on September 2nd.

Bennett Carollo, Sports Editor

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With just a month left to go in the 2019 MLB season, the Tampa Bay Rays are still very much in the hunt. The Rays’ AL East division hopes have long since slipped away, with the New York Yankees in full control, but Tampa Bay now finds themselves in the midst of a three (maybe four) team race for the two wild card spots. As of September 5th, the Rays are tied for the first wild card position with the Oakland Athletics, with the Cleveland Indians being one game behind. The only other team with a fighting chance in the AL is the Boston Red Sox, who are six games out of the second wildcard. It would take a miracle for Boston to claw their way back into the picture, but at the same time it would be foolish to rule out the defending World Series champions with still so much baseball left to be played.

Just a week ago, it would not have been ridiculous to say that the Rays appeared to be fading. They had just finished a so-called easy stretch of their schedule in August by losing a series to the lowly Seattle Mariners and settling for an ugly series split with the last place Baltimore Orioles, with both series taking place at Tropicana Field. If the Rays couldn’t put away the league’s worst teams, how were they going to fare when they had to play top tier teams again? The answer to that question came quickly, as Tampa Bay then lost the first two games of their series with the Houston Astros, one of the AL’s best clubs, and many fans began to accept that maybe the many injuries had taken their toll on the Rays. However, their fortunes suddenly began to change. They salvaged the last game in Houston by winning a back and forth 9-8 game and followed this up by sweeping the Cleveland Indians out of Tropicana Field, bringing themselves back to the top of the wildcard race in the process. The positive momentum continued over the weekend with a series win against the Orioles.

There is also help on the horizon for the Rays, with star pitchers Tyler Glasnow and Blake Snell nearing their long-awaited returns. Not to mention, the annual September call-ups, when MLB rosters expand from 25 to 40 men, could not have come at a better time for the Rays. One of the first call-ups, Nate Lowe, picked up where he left off in his big league stint from earlier in the season by hitting a two-run bomb on September 1st. The Rays were also able to strengthen their bullpen through the expanded roster, which is crucial for a team that loves to play the matchups when trying to close out games. Looking at the remaining schedule, what immediately catches the eye is the final home stand from September 20th through the 25th that features series against the Red Sox and Yankees. While all of the games are massively important in a playoff push, these ones in particular will likely make or break Tampa Bay’s season, as the Red Sox will be looking to stay alive and the Yanks would like nothing more than to deliver a blow to their rival’s hopes. It is sure to be an exciting September as the Rays continue their push for the franchise’s first playoff berth since 2013.

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