Tampa Bay Rays
Tampa Bay Rays' Brandon Lowe (8) and Yandy Diaz (2) celebrate a solo home run in the first inning of a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., Thursday, April 13, 2023. (Ivy Ceballo/Tampa Bay Times via AP)

Rays Begin Crucial Series with Angels

The Tampa Bay Rays kick off a three-game series at home against the Los Angeles Angels at 6:40 p.m. Starting pitcher Taj Bradley will face off against Angels’ pitcher Patrick Sandoval. The Rays (92-59) sit 2.5 games behind the Baltimore Orioles (94-56) for the American League East division lead.

Aaron Civale and Zach Eflin are slated to start in the following two games. The Rays have a favorable matchup against the sub-.500 Angels as the Orioles play two more games against the Houston Astros, who are still fighting for a playoff spot.

Regular Season Dominance

The Rays clinched a playoff spot on Sunday after the Texas Rangers’ loss to the Cleveland Guardians. They are one of three teams to have made the playoffs every year since 2019 and hold an 8.5 game lead over the Toronto Blue Jays for the top wild card spot.

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After splitting a four-game series with Baltimore, the Rays hopes of winning the division are still alive. The Orioles hold the head-to-head tiebreaker, so they’ll need to finish at least one game over the Orioles to win the division. With only 11 games remaining in the season, every game is vital to their division race. Just a few games separate them between a division championship and a wild card spot.

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What’s Left for the Rays?

Following the series against the Angels, Tampa Bay will play eight straight games against AL East opponents. This includes six games against the Blue Jays and two games against the Red Sox. The Rays are currently 24-16 against AL East opponents.

The Orioles play two games against the Astros, four against the Guardians, two against the Washington Nationals and four against the Red Sox. With no games remaining against the Orioles, the Rays will need Baltimore to lose at least four of their final 12 games to win the AL East.

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