Rays Impress on Sunday Night Baseball, Beat Tigers 7-3

Leon Halip

The Tampa Bay Rays take three of four from the Detroit Tigers.

When Jose Molina records a multi-hit game and a Detroit Tigers player trips down the third base line on a play he would have otherwise easily scored on...you know things are going well for the Tampa Bay Rays.

The stats:

David Price throws 8.2 IP, 3 ER, 6 SO, 3 BB

Ben Zobrist goes 4-for-5 with four singles and one RBI

Desmond Jennings and Matt Joyce both went deep

Sean Rodriguez recorded four hits and James Loney had three hits. The Rays as a team had 19 hits.

Let's face it. The stats are great, but the real story is just the overall feeling about this team as they move up the standings.

Yes, they are still nine games under .500 and only 8.5 games behind the Baltimore Orioles for first place in the AL East. It's good times for the Rays, but they still have a lot of work to do.

That still doesn't overshadow the fact that things have changed for this Rays team. The pitching is back to form, the offense is timely and aggressive and there is finally energy within the ballclub. Trade rumors still swirl around David Price, but those won't matter as long as they keep winning.

How good are the Rays playing right now? They just win 10-2 on a three city road trip that took them through Baltimore, New York and Detroit. That is not an easy road trip by any means, but they flat out dominated two divisional opponents and a Tigers team that they rarely play well against, especially at Comerica Park.

The key for the Rays is to keep taking everything a little bit at a time. With only one week left before the All-Star break, they face two crucial series at home. First, they take on the Kansas City Royals, a team that has had the Rays' number for several years now. They'll face James Shields, Jason Vargas and Yordano Ventura - three pitchers that have performed well against the Rays in the past.

Then the Rays will have an opportunity to make up even more ground against the Toronto Blue Jays with a three-game set to finish out the final games before the All-Star break. Meanwhile, the Orioles will play four games against the Washington Nationals before rounding out the week with a three-game set at home versus the New York Yankees.

8.5 games back in the division is great, especially considering the Rays were 15 games back nearly a month ago. If things continue to swing the Rays' way, 8.5 games back could turn into five games back before the break.

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