The proclamation from Joe Maddon was made on Twitter on June 7, when the Rays were 24-39. Those 11 losses ticked away, when Tampa Bay fell to 41-51 with a 6-0 loss to the Royals on July 7, it appeared that the season was lost. By July 11, the Rays, who had fought admirably to make even as much progress as they did, slipped back to double-digit games out of first place in the American League East, at 42-53. Since then, though, the Rays have lost only one game. They are now 53-54, which still means that they are seven games out of first place, but only 4.5 games out of the Junior Circuit’s second wild-card spot, behind the Blue Jays, Yankees (2 GB), Mariners (2 GB) and Royals (3.5 GB). Over the last 37 games, guess what the Rays’ record is. That’s right: 26-11. Maddon got his run, just seven games later than he called for it. Does that mean “then we’ll take our chances” remains? Given that Tampa Bay has held onto ace David Price, rather than rushing to trade him sooner, it certainly could mean just that. It would be unreasonable for the Rays to expect their current form, with 11 wins in their last 12 games, to hold for the rest of the season. The thing is, they don’t have to be even as good as they have been in going 26-11, which is a .703 winning percentage. As of Wednesday morning, Baseball Prospectus projects the Orioles to win the AL East with 87.3 wins, and the Blue Jays to be the second wild-card team, with 85.8 wins. To get to 86 wins, Tampa Bay would need to play .600 ball the rest of the way. Getting to 88 wins would mean a .636 clip, while 90 wins, generally thought to be the magic number to make this year’s playoffs, would require a .673 winning percentage, at 37-18.
MLB trade rumors: Rays' best move might be holding Price until winter
Sporting News | Jul 31