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Rays Still Have a Chance at the AL East, Beat Royals 4-0

It's odd: these last couple games of the season are quite important (I mean, we can still win the AL East), but I can't bring myself to care all that much about them. Maybe it's because we've already clinched a playoff spot, so most of the drama is gone from this "race" with the Yankees. Maybe it's because we're playing the Royals, so it feels like these games don't matter. Maybe it's because the Rays have played poorly of late, so it's left a bad taste in my mouth. Or maybe it's because ever since the Rays clinched, my mind has been like a record player stuck in a groove: "PLAYOFFFFFSSS!"

Like Erik said yesterday, trying to analyse these games is pretty pointless because by now, players are what they are. We all know that Carlos Pena has become a two true outcome hitter: groundballs and strikeouts. We all know that Carl Crawford is having a special season. We all know that our bullpen is one of the best in the majors. I can't resist passing along a couple fun nuggets, though, so enjoy:

  • Carl Crawford's homerun in the third inning gives him 19 on the season - a career high. That also puts him one homerun away from joining the 20 HR - 40 SB club, which (as Erik pointed out earlier this week) is a rare feat.
  • On a related note, BJ Upton and Carl Crawford are the first pair of teammates to both have over 60 extra basehits and 40 stolen bases in a single season. If you hadn't noticed, Upton's power has returned this season with a vengeance. He's going to finish the year with a career high in doubles and tied for a career high in triples, while also hitting more homeruns than he's hit in every year except his magical 2007 season. That's not too shabby, huh?
  • On some pre-recorded footage that aired during the game, Crawford sounded off about never winning a Gold Glove. I agree 100% - it's stupid that he's never won. Even though he's a left fielder, his defense is by far one of the best in the league and has been for multiple years. Crawford should be getting some love this off-season for a number of awards - Silver Slugger, Gold Glove, MVP - and he'd deserve every one.
  • Matt Joyce can really crank them. His triple was a blast to right field, although I think Joyce also benefitting from the wind a bit. It looked to me like the rightfielder, Gregor Blanco, misread the ball and thought it'd land further to the left than it did. The same thing happened to Upton in the bottom of that inning (although he still caught it), so my guess is balls were doing some funky things up there.
  • The Rays' bullpen (and I'm including Sonnanstine in this, since he's a typical bullpen member, but not Price) pitched seven scoreless innings yesterday, only allowing eight hits while striking out six. They weren't facing the most impressive line-up, but that's still a nice accomplishment.
  • Since it looks like the Yankees will win the second game against Boston as well (they're up 6-4 in the seventh right now, although this has been one horrible game to follow), in order to get the division, the Rays will need to win their game today and have the Yankees lose. Possible? Sure. Likely? Well, we'll see soon enough.