MLB Report: Can the Rays really run down the Red Sox?

September 17 [Sat], 2011, 15:24
The Tampa Bay Rays once were nine games out of a playoff spot with 24 games to play. They still have three games to make up with just 13 remaining and are chasing the Wholesale Jerseys Boston Red Sox, a club with a payroll $120 million larger than Maddon's Men. So when B.J. Upton's broken bat distracted Sox shortstop Marco Scutaro long enough to produce a key hit that led to the Cheap Jerseys Wholesale game-breaking rally in a crucial 9-2 victory, Maddon called it "a sign from the baseball gods."
He's no dummy. Maddon knows he's in Boston, where they'll eat up that bad juju faster than you can say "Buckner," and hopefully ladle an extra dollop of pressure on the quickly fading Olde Towne Team.But let's get past curses and quotes and tradition and ponder this: Can the Rays really do this?
Who has the edge as the marathon turns to a sprint? And should the Yankees above them and the Angels beneath them be paying attention?
The Rays line up quite nicely to take at least three of four in Boston. Tonight, Josh Beckett will pitch for the first time since suffering an ankle injury on Labor Day. Manager Terry Francona says they'll treat it like a regular start since Beckett hasn't been out long, but "we reserve the right to see how he's feeling. We'll keep an eye on him." How reassuring. The Rays, meanwhile, counter with an almost sure thing: James Shields, who has pitched at least into the eighth inning in eight consecutive starts. Wow. Saturday tips toward the Red Sox, with a Jon Lester-Jeff Niemann matchup, but Sunday brings another Rays advantage: David Price vs. Tim Wakefield. Like Shields, Price has reached at least the seventh inning in seven of his last nine starts. Wakefield, meanwhile, needed almost two months to go from career win No. 199 to 200. Oh, and the Rays are 10-5 against Boston this year.
So let's say the Rays take three of four, which looks like a decent bet. They'll be two games back with 10 to play -- four at the Yankees, three at home against Toronto, and three more against the Yankees at home. The Red Sox? Four at Cheap MLB Jerseys home against the Orioles, three at the Yankees, three more at Baltimore. Big advantage, Sox. The only factor working in the Rays' favor is the Yankees may be cooling their heels for the playoffs when they play their final series at Tampa Bay. And how frustrating would it be for the Sox, seeing a Yankee lineup perhaps bereft of a few regulars when they need them to beat the Rays? Fun stuff!
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