AL Pennant Race
Tampa Bay Rays' Isaac Paredes reacts after hitting a solo home run off St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Miles Mikolas during the seventh inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2023, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Can the Rays Replicate Early-Season Success?

Since starting the season as the hottest team in baseball, the Rays have found competition. The battle for the AL East is within the final stretch.

Recent Years

The last four years have been full of false hope for Rays fans. Making the playoffs for four straight years, and the World series in 2020, has yet to result in a championship. They were knocked out by the Cleveland Guardians in last year’s Wild Card. Nonetheless, fans are hopeful this year could end the same way it started: with history.

AL East

Tampa already has their Wild Card placing secure, currently sitting with the second best record in the American League. As it would play out, however, the one team ahead of them competes in the same division. The Baltimore Orioles have appeared strong all year and are at their best when it really matters. No team is baseball has been considered more clutch than the Orioles this season, who lead the league in comeback wins and wins on the road.

Consistency Over Clutch

On the other hand, one could argue a team that constantly finds themselves down late in games is no recipe for success in playoff baseball.

Atmospheres are different animals in the playoffs, and the last place you want to find yourself is down late is in front of an opposing fanbase. Tampa, although two games behind, has appeared more consistent throughout. Leading the Orioles in total runs, homeruns and RBI’s. As a matter of fact, Tampa places with in the top three of the American league in each of those statistical categories, being led by Randy Arozarena in runs and Isaac Paredes in homeruns.

Down the Stretch

The Rays are currently in the middle of a series with the Angels, who they defeated in yesterday’s match 6-2. The majority of remaining games come against divisional foe Toronto Blue Jays, who all but have a Wild Card placing locked in. Moving ahead of the Orioles within the final stretch will be no easy task for the Rays, as Baltimore’s remaining schedule has them closing out against teams three teams under 500.

Divisional champion or not, the Rays have their eyes on the prize: the organization’s first World Series trophy.

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