The Tampa Bay Rays are a good team with one shortcoming, they just cannot keep a lead.
According the wondrous site of Baseball Reference, the Rays have blown 14 leads this season. They also have 10 victories in which they came back to defeat their opponent, so that’s nice, but 19 losses puts them near the bottom of the divison.
Entering the sixth inning this year, the Rays have actually been ahead in 22 games. With only 16 victories, that means they have blown at least six of those games late.
The Rays have been able to get ahead early in games, they actually lead the American League in runs scored during the first inning and they’re fifth in the majors in runs scored over the first five innings of a game. However, over the final over innings of the game (the 6th thru the 9th and extras) they down to 29th on the list.
Meanwhile, the Rays pitching staff also sports one of the highest ERA’s over the final innings of the game as they have the 7th highest ERA (4.67).
Worse still: The Rays also aren’t striking anyone out over the closing innings, as the pitching staff combined has a strikeout rate of just 15.2% over innings 7-8-9, the lowest in the majors.
As covered in the DRaysBay podcast, The Hit Show, the Rays are pitching with one hand tied behind their back with all four set up men on the disabled list (Boxberger, Hunter, Tolleson, Cedeno). Give the Rays those pitchers, maybe those six leads lost in the final three innings are kept. That’s the difference between first and fourth in the AL East.