The Tampa Bay Rays end July barely clinging to any playoff hopes. They went into the month in great shape but they nosedived with one of the worst months in recent memory. The Rays have been terrible on offense and defense all month. The normally very good Rays defense has been uncharacteristically bad even from normally great defensive players like James Loney, who let a grounder go between his legs and lose a game and a series to the Philadelphia Phillies last week.
The Tampa Bay Rays schedule starts on the road with the Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox for three games each. They will then return home to Tropicana Field for the New York Mets, who are in a tight battle for the National League East lead and two games with the Atlanta Braves before heading back out on the road with the Texas Rangers for three games and the West leading Houston Astros for four games August 14-20. The end the road trip at the Oakland A’s for three games on the 21st through the 23rd.
They come back home to Tropicana Field on the 25th to face the Minnesota Twins, the current number two A.L. Wild Card and the Kansas City Royals, the Central Division leaders. They will need to get red hot before the Twins series, otherwise they will be playing spoiler.
The Tampa Bay Rays October schedule begins with the Baltimore Orioles on the road from August 31 through September 2. The Rays will then visit the New York Yankees for three games and then visit the Detroit Tigers for three games. The Rays then return to Tropicana Field for ten games against their East Division rivals September 11-20. They start with the Red Sox for three, then the Yankees for three before the Orioles come in for four.
Graphic via fansided
The Rays then go back on the road for four games at Fenway Park with the Red Sox before going on to visit the Toronto Blue Jays. They will return home to Tropicana Field for a three game series with the Miami Marlins September 29 through October 1. They end the season with the Blue Jays at home October 2-4.
If these series are to mean anything, the Rays must get the hitting back and they have to start playing better in the field. Their starting pitching has been good all season, but they can’t do it alone. On Wednesday, Chris Archer had a 1-0 lead and a perfect game going in the seventh but Asdrubal Cabrera failed to make two plays that should have been made in a 2-1 loss.
If they cannot get back into the Wild Card chase, the Rays can be a dangerous spoiler. With good starting pitching like Archer, Erasmo Ramirez, Jake Odorizzi and possibly getting Drew Smyly back soon, they can hang in there with any team. If Matt Moore can get his game back soon, the Rays are capable of going on a hot streak.
One thing they will need is some more power from Evan Longoria who has only 10 home runs this season. He is too good not to have more long balls than this at this point in the season. If he can get hot, they could be tough.
Graphic via cbslocal