LOS ANGELES, July 22, 2013 — The Tampa Bay Rays have had the best record in baseball in the month of July. Their recent hot streak has them sitting just a game and a half behind the Boston Red Sox in the American League East.
The month of July has been kind to the Rays. Tampa Bay has a 15-2 record this month after completing a three-game sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday in Tampa Bay. Are the Rays finally playing better or are they benefitting from some other factors to win games?
Over their last 17 games, the Rays have scored 87 runs while giving up a 40 runs to opposing teams. It does not take a rocket scientist to see that the reason for the Rays recent success is that they have used the old school method of scoring more runs than they give up to win games.
The Rays have swept three out of their last five series, which normally means that a team is indeed playing well. On closer examination, however, one might be wise to take note of the teams Tampa Bay has been beating during the month of July.
They have swept three-game series against each the Chicago White Sox and Toronto Blue Jays and swept a four game series against the Minnesota Twins. These teams have a collective 125 – 162 record in 2013. Tampa Bay has also had two series with Houston in July, taking five out of seven games. Houston has a smashing 33-64 record.
The news should not be that Tampa has a 15-2 record and has swept three series in July. The news should be that Tampa Bay is not 17-0 with five swept series. All but four games in Houston were played in Tampa Bay as well.
The Rays’ new winning ways will be put to the test starting today when they head to Boston for a four-game series and then to New York to face the Yankees for three games. Boston, who has cooled slightly going 10-6 in July, is the only team in the majors to score more than 500 runs this season. The Yankees are 10-7 in July.
Tampa Bay has the pieces to compete for the American League East pennant. They are fifth in runs scored and sixth in MLB in on-base percentage. Tampa’s pitching staff has the fifth lowest WHIP in baseball. Their starting rotation boasts four solid starters in David Price, Matt Moore, Jeremy Hellickson, and rookie Chris Archer.
Unfortunately for Rays fans, they also have Roberto Hernandez in the starting rotation. What is even more unfortunate for Rays fans is that he is actually pitching decently.
Alex Cobb is ready for a rehab assignment and could be close to rejoining the club very soon. This means that either Archer or Hernandez will be removed from the rotation. Archer has minor league options, Hernandez does not. If Archer stays in the rotation, Hernandez would likely be moved to the bullpen.
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