Tampa Bay Rays' Wander Franco watches his two-run double off Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Trevor Richards during the fourth inning of a baseball game Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Rays Fighting in Tight Wildcard Race

The road to October is coming to a close, and the Tampa Bay Rays have some work to do.

They currently sit in the second spot of the AL wildcard race with an 83-67 record after dropping six of their last ten. They only sit half a game ahead of the Seattle Mariners, however, who sit in the third spot in the AL Wildcard race. The Baltimore Orioles are outside looking in sitting four games out of the wildcard picture.

With only three series left, (not including their current series with the Blue Jays) the Rays need strong play in order to stay in the playoff picture.

Rays vs. Jays

Tampa Bay began its final home series of the regular season on Thursday against Toronto. The Rays got off to a strong start with a 10-5 win. They scored nine of those runs in the first four innings of the game. Infielder Jonathan Aranda kicked off the Rays’ offensive onslaught with a 376-foot solo shot in the first inning. Designated hitter Randy Arozarena added to the lead with an RBI double. He followed up with an easy stroll home due to a wild pitch.

Continuing into the second inning, Arozarena as well as right fielder Manuel Margot and shortstop Wander Franco notched a trio of RBI singles.

Franco did it again later on in the fourth with a two-run double. This was his third game in a row with one. On Thursday, Franco’s hitting streak was extended to nine games.

Left fielder David Peralta rounded out the Rays’ ninth and tenth runs. He batted in an RBI single in the fourth and an RBI double in the sixth. Tampa Bay got it done with a group of seven pitchers as reliever Dusten Knight closed out game one.

 

The Rays hope to use the momentum from Thursday night’s win going into Friday night. Jeffrey Springs (9-4, 2.45 era) will take the mound for the Rays against Mitch White (1-6, 5.05 era).

 Hanging On

After Tampa Bay finishes its season with its division rivals, they will have tough tests before the season ends. As for the teams they will visit: Cleveland, Houston and Boston. The Astros, from a record standpoint, are the second-best team in baseball behind the Dodgers. The Guardians sit atop the AL Central. Despite their disappointing season, the Red Sox can still give the Rays some trouble.

So that’s two division leaders in the AL, and an AL East division rival to close out the season. While the Rays are 50 and 28 in Tropicana, they are 33 and 39 in opposing ballparks. With all three series taking place away from the Bay against two good teams and one rival team, the Rays will need to play their best baseball in order to hold onto their playoff spot.

They will take it one game at a time as October draws near, with continued dominance over the Jays as the first order of business.

About jackalperstein

Jack Alperstein is currently a sophomore at the University of Florida studying Sports Journalism.

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