I'd love to refer to where the Rays play as the "Tropic Thunderdome", except that would imply it was actually cool in some way...
Coming out of a successful Baltimore series where a Matt Weiters home run may be the only thing keeping those Orioles' fading division hopes alive, the Bluebirds now travel to another town with an unfriendly recent history: Tampa Bay. Toronto actually hasn't fared too badly this season in Tampa (4-3) but there have been the usual instances of Tropicana Field wackiness. You know the kind, balls bouncing off supports beams in play, losing a ballgame because of a brand new slide rule, Josh Thole nearly hitting an actual home run... madness!
The 2016 Rays are an odd team. They're bad, certainly, yet most of this badness can be traced to one exact period of the season: June 16th to July 18th, where they went 4-24 (!). Yeah, winning just four games in a span of just over a month is bound to wreck anybody's season. You take that stretch out and they're 52-52, which seems about right when you look this team over. Their offense is thin but they do have some guys having great years (Longoria, Brad Miller, Forsythe), overall adding up to a roughly league average attack. Their starting pitching is steady as usual, despite Chris Archer's unstellar year (it looks like he's improved as the year has gone, though that 8-17 record is ug-ly). Also throw in an uncharacteristically weak bullpen beyond the closer Colome, and a defense not doing the pitchers any favours (13th in fielding percentage in the AL, if you're into that kind of thing) and you've really got a formula for a mediocre team. Solid hitting, solid starting pitching, weak bullpen and weak defense, nothing particularly outstanding -- a .500 team.
Except for, you know, that whole losing 24 of 28 games thing.
FRI 7:10 -- Stroman (9-5, 4.58) v. Cobb (---)
SAT 6:10 -- TBA (Estrada?) v. Archer (8-17, 4.11)
SUN 1:10 -- TBA (Happ?) v. TBA (really giving me a lot to work with here, MLB.com...)
Around The Race
The Orioles host the Yankees for a weekend series at Camden Yards, a tilt which promises to be both intriguing and pivotal for both teams. A Yankees sweep would leap frog New York over Baltimore and into at least third place in the AL East, sort of like trading one enemy for another I suppose. Dylan Bundy goes for the Orioles while Chad Green counters for the Bombers in the opener tonight.
Special Non-Baseball Bonus!
Yeah... I seem to be bad at this. If any of you know the song referenced in the title, fire away. No-Prizes, Participation Trophies, cuttlefish and what-not apply.
Be nice to win a few.