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Oct 7, 2013; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) hits a 3-run home run during the fifth inning of game three of the American League divisional series against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Bronx Is Boiling

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Well, Yankees fans, the week started off great. The Yankees rolled the Cubs in a doubleheader and then extended their win streak to five games while staying in first place. Then it went south fast. The bullpen imploded on back-to-back nights and sweeping changes were made throughout the system. Ivan Nova hit the DL. Cervelli went on the DL. And we had to play those pesky Tampa Bay Rays.

I will never loathe a team more than the Boston Red Sox. I will despise the Mets forever simply because they are the cross-town rivals. But I am really starting to get irritated with these Rays. The Bronx is Boiling and I’m going to blow some steam!

BREAK UP THE RAYS!!!

Joe Maddon’s bunch gives the Yankees such fits it’s embarrassing. It seems like Maddon has Joe Girardi figured out as he has owned the Yankees the last five years. Including this weekend, the Yankees are 34-43 against the Rays during that time.

It seems like outside of the Red Sox, the Yankees go through spurts where they simply can not figure out certain teams. In the early 2000s, it was the Anaheim Angels, and I thought it was because Mike Scioscia was simply a superior manager to Joe Torre. The Angels drove me nuts because they were never ridiculously dominating but they were always winning. These Rays are the same way and if the Yankees want to continue to hold on to first in the AL East, they need to figure it out.

The Rays’ lineup is average by most means. Evan Longoria is clearly a superstar, but after Wil Myers, there isn’t much that’s sexy about the Rays lineup. They have two batters above the .300 line and the two guys that have more than two home runs (with a whopping three) aren’t even batting their own weight. Yet somehow, over a 14-inning stretch from Friday to Saturday, they put up 27 runs against the first place Yankees.

The Rays are like the Braves of the AL. They develop these young guns who somehow continually produce. It’s very rare that they swing and miss on an elite prospect. There have been a few, but for the most part, the Rays just keep popping out legitimate big league talent. Evan Longoria, Ben Zorbist, and Desmond Jennings are always causing trouble, not just for the Yankees, but everyone in the AL East. That pitching is even more frustrating. Alex Cobb, David Price, Chris Archer, and Matt Moore all most likely have a Cy Young in their future. The Yankees can’t buy a pitching staff that good, and these guys are just whipping out pitchers out of the sky.

Their scouts and their coaching are superior to just about every other team in baseball, maybe the Cardinals and A’s aside. I sometimes secretly wish the Yankees can get Joe Maddon to take over this squad. I feel like if he was at the helm, the Yankees would win 100 games consistently. He seems to find out a way to win with whatever deck he is handed and gets the most out of everybody who comes through his system. If he were in pinstripes I would love to have him, but right now, he is on a division rival team and his team gets me riled up.

It’s frustrating. The Rays were the irrelevant team in the division for so long. There was never really a reason to dislike them. Now, they are making the case to be our biggest problem to winning the AL East. Until 2010, the Yankees won 10 or more games against the Rays in 8 out of 9 consecutive seasons. Since 2010, the Yankees haven’t won the season series once and have no more than 9 wins in a season series. That’s dominance. And I don’t like being dominated. Most Yankees’ fans don’t.

That’s not to say that the Yankees can’t win the division with the Rays a part of it. I still think the Yankees are the dominant team. The Rays are like gnats and they just won’t ever go away. I am already dreading the 6 games the Yanks have to play against them in September when it really matters and the Rays always seem to surge. If the Yankees solve their bullpen woes and starting pitching injuries though, there hopefully wont be much to worry about.

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