The Tampa Bay Rays have it on cruise control. The magic number remains at 11 for the Rays to clinch the American League East as they control their destiny.
The Rays have the best record in the American League at 89-54 despite losing two out of three in Detroit against the Tigers. The team is looking to secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and is in the driver’s seat right now.
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The Rays still trail the Dodgers and the Giants by just a couple of games for the best overall record in baseball. The Rays are looking to become the first team in franchise history to win 100 games which they should eclipse sometime the last week of September.
With the great season the Rays have had, the team has had trouble drawing fans to Tropicana Field. Outside of the initial season and the period from 2008-2010, the Rays have never averaged over 20,000 fans at the Trop.
Coming off a World Series appearance, you would have thought tickets would have been in demand, similar to what we have seen with the Buccaneers and the Lightning. That has not been the case, as the Rays are averaging around 8500 fans per game.
There are many reasons for this, however. The main reason is a lack of a good marketing and PR effort. This week the team announced that they would have ten-dollar tickets available for the final homestand of the season against Detroit, Toronto, and Miami.
The Rays undoubtedly should have had a promotion like this all season long. Hopefully, it works, and the team can play in front of larger crowds down the stretch.
On the injury front, the Rays seem to be spinning their wheels. Ji-Man Choi returned this week, now the sensational rookie Wander Franco is on the ten-day DL with a hamstring problem. Taylor Walls was recalled from Durham to take Franco’s spot on the roster.
The Rays activated Nick Anderson and Brett Phillips off the DL. They then put pitcher Chris Archer on the DL for the third time this season with hip soreness. Also, relief pitcher Matt Wisler was placed on the DL with a finger issue.
It doesn’t look like Archer will be counted on to be part of the Rays, postseason pitching staff. Dietrich Enns will move into Archer’s spot in the rotation; moreover, he will start against the Tigers Thursday at Tropicana Field.
Outfielder Austin Meadows has been slumping lately. He was 0/4 in his last three games before getting a hit in a pinch-hit appearance on Sunday. Meadows is just two RBI’s shy of becoming just the sixth player in Rays history to drive in 100 runs. Evan Longoria was the last member of the Rays to drive in 100 runs. He accomplished that feat in 2010. Carlos Pena holds the record with 121 in 2007.
With 19 games remaining, the Rays will play six against Toronto and three against Boston and the Yankees.
The Rays will open up a three-game series giants the Blue Jays on Monday night in Toronto. Colin McHugh starts for the Rays. He will then give way to Ryan Yarbrough, who will work the majority of the innings.