Sunday, August 31, 2008

Rays Win Streak at 5 - Extend AL East Lead

I'm not sure what has surprised baseball enthusiasts more this year:

1. The fact that the Rays are playing above .600 ball

2. That the Yankees will not make the playoffs

It sure seems like neither of these two have happened before and were certainly not expected for this season. I personally find it quite refreshing to think that a team which was so lousy one year can be so great the next. Perhaps it was the loss of the "Devil" as an additional aspect of the team's name. It is more likely that the success can be attributed to the Rays' lights-out bullpen, which has accumulated a 3.35 ERA (compared with 6.24 at this time last season). Compare this to pretty much every other team and you'll see why the Rays are where they are in the standings.

Bullpens are an underrated trigger for success or failure, and more commonly failure. At least for me, I remember the times when the likes of Tyler Walker or Jack Taschner blow games for the Giants, yet seem to take it for granted when the lead is preserved. For the Rays fans, however, it is only once in a blue moon that leads are relinquished.

So at this point, I am ready to guarantee that the Rays will make the playoffs. They have shown their toughness by enduring injuries to their best players: Crawford and Longoria; not just breaking even but producing wins with their absences. Look for the Rays to meet the Angels in the ALCS this year.