Down but Not Out
Teams found here are struggling at the worst possible time. A solid run will put any of these teams back in contention, but none of them look capable of pulling it off at the moment.
In a race this congested, one bad week and definitely two can completely ruin you. We’re looking at you Tampa Bay.
The trio of teams on this page are either four (Rays and Orioles) or five (Blue Jays) games back of the Twins and Angels. If they want to, truly, get back in the race, now is the time.
Toronto Blue Jays
Overall record (through Sunday): 59-65
Last week: 3-4
This week: Off Monday; at Tampa Bay Rays (Tue.-Thu.); vs. Minnesota Twins (Fri.-Sun.)
Things started off great for Toronto this past week. One of the first rules they teach you in “How to Climb the Standings for Dummies” is to beat the teams ahead of you when given the chance.
Check. The Blue Jays took three of four from the visiting Rays to start the week.
The fictitious book does not recommend getting swept by the teams that aren’t ahead of you. If you’re going to get swept, having it done by the defending World Series champs is not the worst thing, especially since they are in the National League. However, it’s still not a good move.
This week offers more opportunities for Toronto to beat the teams ahead of it—three games at Tampa Bay and three at home against Minnesota.
Overall record (through Sunday): 60-64
Last week: 2-4
This week: Vs. Oakland Athletics (Mon.-Wed.); off Thursday; at Boston Red Sox (Fri.-Sun.)
The Orioles played two crucial series last week against fellow Wild Card jockeys. They lost both series.
They lost both even though they won the opening game of the two series. That’s hard to overcome.
A win in Seattle on Monday was followed by a pair of losses to the Mariners. Even when they returned home the story was the same. A win over the Angels on Friday but two defeats to Los Angeles to close the three-game set.
Buck Showalter & Co. need a sweep—or at least a series win—over Oakland to feel good about themselves heading into a weekend trip to Boston.
Tampa Bay Rays
Overall record (through Sunday): 61-65
Last week: 2-5
This week: Off Monday; vs. Toronto Blue Jays (Tue.-Thu.); at St. Louis Cardinals (Fri.-Sun.)
Since three straight wins over Houston to open the month of May, Tampa Bay has gone a horrid 4-12.
And yet the Rays are just four games back. This is life as we know it.
Things have to turn around or the Rays will be completely out of contention by the first week of September. It won’t be easy for an offense that has scored four-plus runs just three times since Aug. 3.
The pitching has been holding up its end of the bargain, for the most part. Only three times during the aforementioned swoon have the Rays allowed more than five runs. However, two of those times came this past weekend in a critical series against Seattle.
With series left against Toronto, Kansas City, Minnesota and twice against Baltimore, Tampa Bay has the time and matchups needed to ascend the Wild Card standings. Whether it can, that remains to be seen.