Blog Entry

Rays: We need to run the table

Posted on: September 23, 2011 12:06 am
Edited on: September 23, 2011 12:06 am
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NEW YORK -- The way the Rays made up ground on the Red Sox, you'd figure that they've been winning every game.

They haven't.

They have a chance in this wild-card race because they've played well . . . and mostly because the Red Sox haven't.

The Rays have swept just one series all month. They've had just one five-game winning streak, and none longer.

Now they figure they need one.

The Rays were sure they needed to beat the Yankees on Thursday, and they did, 15-8. They're sure they need to sweep the Blue Jays this weekend and home, and they believe they'll need to sweep the Yankees in the series that begins Monday at Tropicana Field.

They're two games back of the Red Sox with six to play, but the Rays have decided it's now must-win time.

"We pretty much have to win every game," Matt Joyce said. "We came here [Thursday], and we said, 'Let's win every game. Let's just win the rest of them, and see what happens.'"

Go 6-0, the Rays figure, and they'll count on the Red Sox losing at least twice in six road games against the Yankees and Orioles.

Go 6-0, the Rays figure, and they won't have to worry about the Angels, who fell to three games back of Boston (and one game behind the Rays) with their walkoff loss in Toronto.

"We're going to have to count on the Yankees taking care of the Red Sox," Johnny Damon said. "But we also have to take care of business. . . . We kind of feel we have to [win them all]. We can't rely on Boston losing all of them."

The Rays believe they missed a chance this week at Yankee Stadium, believe they should have been able to get a split of the four-game series, believe especially that they should have won Wednesday's day game with James Shields on the mound.

They got a break because the Red Sox lost three of four at home to the Orioles.

"We're kind of fortunate," manager Joe Maddon admitted.

They believe the schedule that looked to be against them when they left Boston on Sunday (also two games behind) may now have turned slightly in their favor.

They know that the Red Sox are on the road the rest of the way, and they believe that the Yankees may be more motivated to win this weekend against the Sox than they'll be in the three-game series against the Rays that follows.

"Boston playing Baltimore in Baltimore, that's not going to be easy," Maddon said, with a twinkle in his eye.

Maddon was in the unusual situation Thursday of rooting hard against the Angels, and his good friend Mike Scioscia. But there was no doubt he was happy to see the Blue Jays win.

The Rays have had plenty of help already, and they know it. Now, they believe, it's time for them to help themselves.

"We have to win every game, pretty much," Maddon said. "There might be room for one hiccup. . . . [But] you think you've got to run the table."

That would mean a seven-game winning streak, counting Thursday's game against the Yankees. That hardly sounds impossible.

There have already been 22 winning streaks that long in the major leagues this year. The Royals won seven straight. So did the Cubs. And the Twins.

Seven of the eight teams currently in a playoff position have had at least one seven-game winning streak (everyone but the Braves).

The Rays haven't. Not yet.

Now they think they'll need one.

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