Aug 5, 2012

The Playoffs begin now for Rays

by Aaron Giddens

Jose Lobaton
We need more chocolate ice cream celebrations
like Lobaton got in Baltimore last week.
Courtesy: Keith Allison/Flickr
Rays fans have become accustomed to come from behind improbable runs to and in the playoffs since 2008. And to do so this year, the Rays will have to do it again. Like last year the Rays have themselves in a bind. Sure, they're only 2 GB in the Wild Card standings (7.5 GB of the first place Yankees), but the Wild Card scene is really...compact right now. Five teams within 6 games of the Wild Card leading A's and Tigers.

What this means is that the Rays playoffs, similar to last year, begin early again. With so many teams vying for the Wild Card spots, teams are gonna need every win they can get to get one. And don't forget that even though I'm talking Wild Card, a division title is still not out of the question. All it really takes is for the Rays to go on a really hot streak, like a 20-2 streak and a cog to fall of the well oiled Yankees machine and the Rays (and possible the O's too) can get right back in the division title hunt.

There is still a lot of baseball to be played. The regular season ends 8 weeks from Wednesday. So all play off spots are still very much in play right now.

For the Rays to claim one of those tickets to October, they will have to start playoff baseball now. Play like there isn't a tomorrow. This team is running out of tomorrows so it's time to start playing like there isn't one. Sure it's a lot of pressure, but it's what necessary if the team wants that first world championship ring.

I fully believe, despite the offensive struggles and wasted pitching gems that this team can be the comeback kids and shock the baseball world again. And any person who truly believes they can't hasn't been paying attention the past few seasons. It's almost like a science to the Rays at this point.

What will help with this push is the return of Longo hopefully later this week. And the return of a healthy Luke Scott. This team needs offense if they are to do anything. They have no shortage of good pitching and, since the All-Star break, good defense.

In short, time is of the essence. They must start their playoff baseball now if they are to have a shot at the real playoffs in October. And yes, I know playoff baseball starting early last season was contributor to what sunk 'em last year but it's essential to the 2012 Rays' survival.

Strap in, everyone, it gets harder from here.

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