Baseball is a superstitious sport, and I believe that Jason Bartlett is the Rays' good luck charm.
Jason Bartlett last played for the Rays on July 2nd, at which point the Rays were 52-32,and had the best record in baseball.
Since that day the Rays' record is an embarrassing 3-7, with all 3 of those victories coming against the lowly Royals, and are now 1/2 game behind Boston.
I'm sure that to some extent there may be some coincidence involved (and let's not forget the liability of having Jonny Gomes on the field during several of those games), but looking back over the last 10 games I can find several fielding mistakes and many horrible at-bats by both Brignac and Zobrist (who have taken Bartlett's place in the lineup in his absence) which have added up to, I'd say, 2 losses over that period. We could've used some "Bartlett-luck" during several of those games for sure.
If the Rays win 2 of the 7 that they lost, they would still stand atop the AL East and the mindset of both the players and fans would be a much more healthy one coming out of the all-star break.
Luckily, Bartlett should be back in the lineup against Toronto on Friday and the Rays can begin to play like the '08 Rays again, not the '07 Devil Rays...hopefully.
So for all the times I said that Jason Bartlett was a below average player with a below average bat and a noodle-arm... I rescind my criticism, and humbly say: Welcome back Mr. Bartlett, apparently you're the Rays' good-luck charm, please remind your teammates how to win!