I don’t know how today’s game will go.
What I do know is that over the course of July, the Rays have been playing as well as they have all season long.
And that is saying something.
Heading into Interleague play, back in June, the Rays sat with a supberb record of 32-12. They were 20 games over .500 and playing the best baseball in the league. They were the talk of the league and considered a shoo-in for the playoffs.
Then disaster hit.
The Rays became human.
They started to lose at a Devil Rays-esque pace. Over the course of 30 games the Rays won only 12, falling out of first place in the AL East, out of the wildcard spot in the AL, and into the spot they finished in last season: 3rd.
It was heartbreaking.
Then something weird happened.
FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT!!
In the final game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, BJ Upton pulled a, well, BJ Upton, and loafed after a ball in the gap.
After being called out by Evan Longoria on his lack of hustle, BJ threw a temper tantrum.
Upton was removed from the starting lineup for the next handful of games, something that BJ and manager Joe Maddon said was because of injury, but the rest of the fans with any baseball acumen knew was an unpublished suspension.
And the Rays took off.
BACK ON PACE
Since the fight, the Rays have gone 9-3 against some of the better competition in the league, the Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox, and a team they SHOULD beat, the Cleveland Cav-, um, Indians.
A win today will move the Rays to 54-34, right back to where they were about a little over a month ago.
20 games over .500 again.
They would have the second best record in the AL and (possibly) get to within 1 game of first place, behind the New York Yankees.
Jeff Nieman is on the mound today. He is 16-4 since last July. Pitchers cannot be much better than he has been the last year.
The Cleveland Indians are, well, a team that is on the downturn, let’s say.
20 games over .500 would look pretty good going into a mid-season rest.
How much longer could this streak of good play go?