The Rays Tank: A Look Around the AL East

The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

The Rays are currently sitting on the bottom of the AL East tied with the Blue Jays. However, the Blue Jays have won their last 11 games in a row.

The Rays just completed a seven-game road trip going 3-4 and falling into last place in the AL East. They return to the Trop today to take on who is arguably the hottest team in baseball right now, the Toronto Blue Jays.

Yes, the Blue Jays have won ELEVEN games in a row and are looking to leave the Rays in the dust at the bottom of the AL East. The Rays will hopefully put an end to this hot streak as Wil Myers will play in his first game at Tropicana Field. With three weeks remaining before the All Star Break, let’s take a look at how everyone is doing around the division.

Boston Red Sox (45-33)

The Red Sox are currently on a two-game losing streak coming out of Detroit and will host the Rockies for a two-game series (Tuesday and Wednesday) in Fenway before the Blue Jays come to town for a four-game series. Franklin Morales is set to undergo an MRI today to determine whether or not a DL stint will be necessary after leaving Saturday’s game with discomfort in his left shoulder. Clay Buchholz has been ruled out of a Tuesday return and will likely need a minor league rehab stint because he has not pitched in over two weeks, per Ian Browne of MLB.com.

Baltimore Orioles (42-34, 2.0 GB)

The Orioles were swept in Toronto this past weekend, but head home to host the Cleveland Indians for a four-game series before the Yankees come to town for three games. Second baseman Brian Roberts is set to begin a rehab assignment this week after recovering from right hamstring surgery. Outfielder Nolan Reimold will likely return to the team soon as he continues to rehab from a right hamstring strain. Per MLB.com, Chris Davis currently leads the league in homeruns with 27, and is second behind Miguel Cabrera (75) in RBIs with 70. Buck Showalter had quite an animated ejection this past weekend, mouth full of dip and all.

New York Yankees (41-34, 2.5 GB)

In case you weren’t paying attention to baseball this weekend, the Yankees are coming off a four game series with the Rays in which they took two games. The Yankees have an off-day today and will host the Rangers Tuesday through Thursday, before traveling to Baltimore. Rookie Zoilo Almonte had taken Vernon Wells’ spot in the lineup for the past three games, so we’ll see if the Yanks stick with the ‘hot hand’ as described by Chris Iseman and David Wilson of MLB.com. Derek Jeter returned to New York this weekend to take batting practice and be with the team as he continues to rehab his bionic ankle. It looks like rehab games aren’t too far away for Alex Rodriguez as he works to return after hip surgery. That’s if the whole biogenesis case doesn’t result in a suspension by the time he’s back with the team.

Toronto Blue Jays (38-36 5.0 GB)

The Blue Jays have won eleven in a row and are coming off a sweep of the Orioles and they come into St. Pete for a three-game series against the Rays today. Evan Peaslee of MLB.com wrote about how Blue Jays pitcher, Mark DeRosa, can’t recall a win-streak of this length since he started playing in 1998. (He must have a bad memory, there have been longer streaks since then, quite a few actually if you take a look here, including a 20-game win streak by the Oakland A’s in 2002.) However, there’s no denying that this team is definitely on fire right now and the Rays have their work cut out for them. Adam Lind has certainly carried a hot bat over the past ten games, hitting .308 with four homeruns and 12 RBI’s. Christina Kahrl of the SweetSpot blog on ESPN.com also wrote about the Blue Jays’ hot streak here. Jose Reyes could be making his return to the team this week. We can only hope the Rays find a way to cool Toronto down and take the upcoming series.

Tampa Bay Rays (39-37 5.0 GB)

The Rays are returning home to host the Blue Jays after taking two of four from the Yankees. Wil Myers hit his first big league homerun this weekend, a grand slam which you can watch again below.

Since joining the team on June 18th, Myers is hitting .267 with six RBI’s. Steve recapped yesterday’s 3-1 win here. A preview of the Blue Jays series will be posted later on today. Jeremy Hellickson takes the mound against Esmil Rogers at 7:10 tonight at Tropicana Field.

Worth noting, each of the five teams in the AL East is at least two games over .500, whereas in the Central and West, only four teams total have a winning record.

Links:

-There are less than two weeks left of voting for the All Star Game and Evan Longoria needs more votes. As of Saturday, Longoria had 1,106,984 votes and trails Miguel Cabrera (4,337,223), Manny Machado (2,097,804) and Adrian Beltre (1,334,195), per Bill Chastain.

-Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus love to prank each other during Rangers games. Usually it’s Andrus messing with Beltre, but it was Adrian’s turn this weekend on an infield popout.

- Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs gif’d and analyzed some of the wildest swings of the week. Number four features Matt Moore facing Robinson Cano.

-Also on FanGraphs, Bill Petti examined pitchers putting away batters with heat and noted that Alex Cobb has the highest single-game strikeout total (13) without inducing a single strikeout with a fastball.

-It must’ve been sweltering in Detroit to cause Mike Napoli to wear his jersey like this:

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