And this why….
• The depth of their bench. They are solid and experienced. Hitters like Eric Hinske, Willy Aybar and Cliff Floyd have the experience. Gabe Gross and Shawn Riggans have shown a propensity for getting the big hit when we need it. Riggans has amazingly maintained a healthy bat only playing once a week or less – he’s been outstanding this season. The entire bench does not hit for average but when they do is take pitchers deep into counts and get a pitch they can do something with.
• The depth of their pitching staff. From the starters to the bullpen they have proven if one is struggling the others will have their back. If one goes down another from AAA is there to step right in without a hint of inability.
• The defense has been above average. The Rays do commit errors occasionally but they move past the error onto the next play.
• They play as a complete TEAM. Every night there is a new hero for this team. Who would have thought Andy Sonnanstine would lead our SP staff with 9 wins? Who would have thought we’d have as many walk off wins as we’ve had this season? Who really thought Troy Percival was going to come in here and close the door like he has?
• They are hungry! They have hit a few bumps in the road but have picked themselves up the next night. They want this – it’s in their eyes!
The next test comes at The Trop with division nemesis Boston red Sox. This will be a 3 game series that could see one team or the other fall far below the top in the AL East standings. Or we could just see another brawl! Here are your pitching Matchups:
June 30 – James Shields (5-5, 3.76) vs. Justin Masterson (4-1, 3.43) TV – ION Radio – 1250 WHNZ, 680 WGES (sp)
July 1 – Matt Garza (6-4, 3.76) vs. Tim Wakefield (5-5, 3.88) TV – FSN Radio – 1250 WHNZ, 680 WGES (sp)
July 2 – Scott Kazmir (7-3, 2.88) vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka (9-1, 3.21) TV – ION Radio – 1250 WHNZ, 680 WGES (sp)
The Tampa Bay Rays are true contenders in the AL East. This series will end with the Rays still atop the AL East and a series victory 2-1.