The Rays go into the final series of the season 1 game behind the Red Sox for the Wild Card spot. It looks like the Rays will need to win 2 of 3 or sweep the series in order to have a realistic shot at the Wild Card, or at least get a one game playoff against Boston on Thursday.
The Yankees have nothing to play for, so the Rays task might not be as difficult as they once thought. The Red Sox finish the season in Baltimore and despite their extra innings win on Sunday night against the Yankees, are in a complete free fall. Additionally, Baltimore won 3 of 4 at Fenway last week.
I spoke with Rays Colored Glasses writer Jamie Newcomb about the upcoming series, giving him a 3 pack of questions on the Rays.
What do you think will be the outcome of the 3 game series with the Yankees? What do you think will happen with the Red Sox and Angels? I guess to some that all up, will the Rays win the Wild Card?
Until that Ellsbury homer in the 14th, I liked the Rays chances. If they were even they could afford to drop a game and still tie the Red Sox if they did not sweep. Now, they need a sweep and can only draw even if the Red Sox take two out of three. That is a tall order, especially given what happened in New York last week, when the Rays came in brimming with confidence. My prediction is the Rays take two out of three and the Red Sox do the same leaving the Rays one game short. The Angels closed the door on themselves blowing the lead against Oakland and losing Sunday.
Jeff Niemann came out early from his last start. He would be scheduled to pitch on Thursday if there was a tie for the Wild Card. Will he be ready to pitch or will the Rays have to go with someone else. Who would that someone else be?
There are varying reports on his departure from that game. One thing that is certain is he did not look comfortable on the mound in that outing. Rays’ fans would like to have somebody else in that position but it looks like Niemann would be ready to go. He has been effective against the Red Sox, winning his last two starts against Boston, so they would be fine with him starting in that scenario. If he can’t go Maddon has the option of a rookie who started the year in Double-A, Matt Moore, or Wade Davis on short rest. Moore was impressive in New York last week, but I don’t think even Maddon is unorthodox enough to put Moore out in that type of situation at this point in his career.
If the Rays were to win the Wild Card, do you think they have a realistic chance to make the World Series? Why or Why not?
Their pitching makes them a tough out against anybody, even more so in a short series. But their offense just is not capable of getting them that far. The Rangers are just loaded on offense and both the Tigers and Yankees pitching presents problems for the Rays at the plate. Can they win a series? Yes. Can they win back-to-back series? I don’t think so. The have had such a hard time putting runs on the board against quality pitching this year that seems a little far fetched.
By Rob Bonanni