So all Tampa Bay needed to do to win some games was to release the demons? By dropping half of their name this off-season, the Rays have gone from lame duck in the American League East to a contender for first in their division.
This was already the latest in the season they had ever been as high as second place, and after taking the second straight game against the Yankees Tuesday night, they’ve moved past the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox and into sole possession of first (by half a game).
Yes, I know it’s still the middle of May and there’s still plenty of games to be played. But we’ve been saying that since they swept the Jays back on April 22-24. Only days before they swept the Red Sox and then this past weekend the Angels — not exactly struggling teams.
So what’s so different about this year’s team? Maybe patience and good trades have finally paid off. While in seasons past they’ve struggled at the plate and on the mound, so far they’re clicking on both fronts. They have the seventh best batting average and their starting rotation has the fifth best ERA in the AL (heading into Tuesday’s action).
And who says you need experience to win. The Rays have been playing with one of the youngest rosters in the league for awhile now, and 2008 is no different. The average age of 27.8 ties them for third youngest.
While I’m not predicting the Rays to be playing October ball in 2008, I do think these 25 guys are the real deal and will only get better in the next few years. Even finishing better than fourth in the division would be the best the team has ever done in franchise history.
So while Jays fans continue to scratch their heads at why they just can’t seem to get things going — maybe all Toronto has to do is quit being Blue. Go Jays.