I’m looking forward to the movie “Moneyball” hitting theaters on Friday. But rather than highlight the Oakland A’s, how about a movie on these Tampa Bay Rays.
I don’t know if the Rays will rally past the Boston Red Sox to win the wild card when many – myself included – picked the Red Sox to win the whole thing. But it’s amazing that Tampa is even in contention.
Think about what the Rays have done this year. They’ve managed to rebuild in one year and become competitive, something that the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays haven’t been able to do in 15 or 20 years of rebuilding in the tough AL East. Just take a look at the players that Tampa lost from last year’s playoff team:
1B Carlos Pena
SS Jason Bartlett
LF Carl Crawford
SP Matt Garza
RP Rafael Soriano
RP Grant Balfour
RP Joaquin Benoit
RP Randy Choate
RP Dan Wheeler
RP Lance Cormier
Did I miss anyone?
That should have been a significant blow to their chances. Look no further than the Minnesota Twins to see an example of a team that couldn’t replace its bullpen quite as easily. And add to that an All-Star outfielder in Crawford, a top-of-the-rotation starter in Garza and a solid shortstop up the middle in Bartlett – all gone from the Rays 2010 squad.
I’m really pulling for Tampa. But either way, it’s a much better feel-good underdog story than the A’s of a decade ago.
A couple links:
FanGraphs has a Q&A with departing Twins broadcaster John Gordon.
Grantland.com has a piece on minor league lifer Chase Lambin, who is in the Twins organization.
One night after clinching a postseason berth, the Minnesota Twins find themselves tied with the New York Yankees for best record in the American League.
The Yankees dropped a 7-2 decision to Tampa Bay on Wednesday night. During the afternoon, the Twins – featuring a lineup barely recognizable to a bandwagon fan – defeated the Cleveland Indians 5-1.
Twins got some big hits in the sixth inning from guys fighting for spots on the postseason roster. Alexi Casilla, Jose Morales, Matt Tolbert and Ben Revere helped the Twins score five runs between the sixth and seventh innings to give Nick Blackburn enough run support for a victory.
Blackburn appears to have solidified the No. 4 spot in the playoff rotation.
As far as the pursuit for home-field advantage throughout the AL playoffs, the Twins are tied with the Yankees. Both are 1 1/2 in front of Tampa Bay. The Rays and Yankees wrap up a four-game series Thursday, so a Rays win would put the Twins on top with the best record in the majors.
Looking ahead, the Twins and Rays appear to have easier paths the rest of the season. But there’s always the dreaded “team that’s got nothing to play for” to deal with.
- Twins remaining schedule: 3 at Detroit, 3 at Kansas City, 4 vs. Toronto
- Rays remaining schedule (beyond Thursday): 3 vs. Seattle, 3 vs. Baltimore, 4 at Kansas City
- Yankees remaining schedule (beyond Thursday): 3 vs. Boston, 3 at Toronto, 3 at Boston