This post is mostly a place-holder--I'm staying at my parents' house for a couple of days, and as such don't have very good internet access--that I hope to fill in later this afternoon. I've been trying to think of a single sentence to describe the Rays' weekend. I've been unsuccessful, but the onomatopoeic "thbbbbbbt!" which I think covers both the improbable five-inning, four-run, first-win-since-forever outing from James Shields on Saturday (RAYS 10, Seattle 4) and the unpolishable turd of a game on Sunday (RAYS 2, Seattle 11). I mean, I know Kazmir didn't have his best stuff (does anybody remember what his best stuff looked like?), but this Jeff Bennet fellow needs to be either (a) investigated for industrial espionage or (b) DFA'd. Russel Branyon hit a grand slam against the Rays? THAT Russel Branyon? Ugh.
This site would like to echo the Professor's irritation at the Rays' inability to win getaway games.
Fangraphs has an interesting two-part piece breaking down the AL East. Given how the Red Sox have looked lately, you have to like the Rays' chances for second in the division and the Wild Card. I'd like their chances better if they didn't lose 11-2 to the freakin' Mariners, but whatever.
Coolstandings projects a 24.2 percent chance for the Rays to win the Wild Card. We might as well, at this point, consider that number identical with their overall chances of making the playoffs (coolstandings combines the Wild Card chance with the team's chances of winning the division to get the overall number, but the Rays' shot at winning the East this year, barring a total collapse in the Bronx, is functionally zero).
The Rays swing into L.A./Anaheim/the greater Southern California area to face the Angels. The Rays, according to this article and my recollection, have not won a series there since May of 1999, and will have to do better than the past decade's 8-34 record in L.A. if they want to hold on to hopes of competing for the Wild Card. The Rays are sending Garza, Price, and Niemann against Sean O'Sullivan, Ervin Santana, and Trevor Bell, respectively. Neither O'Sullivan nor Bell have faced the Rays before, and, as we all know, the Rays have struggled mightily against young pitchers this year. The good news, however, is that all three pitchers are righties.
If the pitching comes through for the Rays, they've got a shot at this series. Let's all cross our fingers!
P.S. Belatedly (things have been busy, but the problem's mostly that I'm a flake), many thanks to the proprietor of this here site, Mr. DirtbagFan, for trusting me to run things last week, and glad to hear he didn't think I did too bad a job. Welcome back!