At the time of this writing (lunchtime on August 30th), with 29 games to go in the 2018 season, the standings looked like this:
Your Tampa Bay Rays sat on the outside looking in, 8.5 games out of the second wild card, with two teams to climb over. That’s...a tall order.
As a reminder, here is what the standings looked like on this date in 2011.
Huh. 8.5 games back in the (then) one team wild card race with 28 games to go. Now, I’m not saying you should expect a miracle. The odds of 2011 happening were wild. And the odds of another 2011 happening are...well, actually, they are almost the same as the odds of the first one (maybe a smidgen lower since our miracle now requires the collapse of two teams, neither of which is inflicted with Boston Foot in Mouth Hubris).
So let’s act like we’ve been here before, is what I’m saying, and let’s do what all fanbases in the hunt do. Let’s PLAY SCOREBOARD.
So You’re Telling Me There’s a Chance
The biggest series of the Scoreboard season (until the next biggest series of the Scoreboard season, that is) kicks off tonight, when the A’s play the M’s. As you can see up yonder, those are both teams we are a-chasing! So which team should a good Rays fan be cheering for? And to which clubhouse should we be sending the beer and chicken?
Let’s take a look.
On The Horizon
The Rays future schedule looks like this:
Current Road Trip: Cleveland Indians (3 games), Toronto Blue Jays (3 games)
9/7 - 9/16 Homestand: Baltimore Orioles (3 games), Cleveland Indians (3 games), Oakland A’s (3 games)
9/17 - 9/23 Road Trip: Texas Rangers (3 games), Toronto Blue Jays (4 games)
As you can see, we do have three games against Oakland ourselves to make some hay. And in addition to this weekend’s Oakland/Seattle tilt in Oakland, there is another three game set between these two from 9/24 to 9/27 in Seattle. That will be (hopefully) the final “biggest series of the Scoreboard season.” The one that puts us over the top.
Because if the Mariners take care of Oakland twice, and the Rays take care of Oakland later this month, this miracle becomes — while certainly not a shoe-in — at least do-able. What would remain to be done is the Rays to outplay a pretty hot Mariners team (who just crushed the formerly red hot Oakland A’s for heaven’s sake!) as well as a slumping A’s club in the games down the stretch when those two aren’t playing each other. Well, and when they are playing each other too. Really, the Rays just gotta keep winning, period.
To put some skin on this, let’s assume 90 wins is what it take to get there. Here is what needs to happen:
Athletics: 10-18 (with 7 games against Seattle / 3 games against Tampa Bay)
Mariners: 16-13 (with 7 games against Oakland)
Rays: 19-10 (with 3 games against Oakland)
Look, I’m not predicting a great collapse or anything. But when you look back at the great collapses in baseball history, they looked like this going into September.
So this weekend, you should definitely get out your Ichiro shirsy and bobblehead. And over the weekend, you might want to stop by your local Lids Locker Room and pick up some Angels gear, a Rangers cap, and then swing by Barnes and Noble for the Cal Ripken Jr. All-Star book series. Because both Seattle and Oakland have heavy doses of the Angels, Rangers, and Orioles coming up in September, and we are gonna need all the offerings to the baseball gods that we can get.