The Rays were thought to be a team that could make a push at both the Red Sox and Yankees in the American League East in the second half of the season. Fans wondered if the East, like the West in the NL, would get three teams into the playoffs.
That was only about a month ago. Now, Tampa Bay is in danger of finishing at the bottom of the division and any hope of a Wild Card berth appears to be slipping away.
Last night’s 2-1 loss in Toronto marked five in a row for the Rays. At least they scored one run; Tampa was shutout twice over the weekend against Cleveland and another time in the series before that against Boston. Wilson Ramos‘ second inning home run was all the Rays could muster and even though Jake Odorizzi and the bullpen were good, they weren’t good enough to stop the bleeding for a night.
That’s what happens when you rely on a home run trot to score runs. Tampa Bay has fallen off the pace after being in contention to lead the league in home runs in 2017. The Rays have gone through a dry spell that has not only taken them to 11th in the league – 21 off the pace – but completely crippled their offense, sending the team into a tail spin. Lucas Duda homered in three of his first four games with the Rays but hasn’t sent one over the fence in August, striking out in almost half of his at-bats.
Blake Snell was good in his last start but he’s been good before. It’s consistency that he lacks and he’ll have to deal with a Toronto lineup that is swinging the bats about as well as it has all season.
That isn’t saying a whole lot; the Jays have been major disappointments all season but are somehow just 3.5 games out of a Wild Card spot but with a whole slew of teams in front of them. They have won three in a row and Josh Donaldson is hot. He has eight homers in his last 16 games after another one last night – a two-run homer in the first that gave Toronto all the runs it would need.
I’m conflicted about Marco Estrada‘s prognosis tonight. He has been throwing the ball well – seven innings in each of his last three starts. He is still vulnerable to the long ball, though. He has kept it in the yard for two of those last three, though and that recent stretch is what I tend to put more stock into as he looks like he has some of that confidence back with his changeup.
With Toronto relatively healthy and hot at the plate, plus the way Tampa Bay is playing offensively, it’s tough to stay away from the home Jays at an affordable -130.
Free Pick: Blue Jays -130