Just two months ago to the day, the Rays stood two games ahead of the Yanks while Boston and Toronto were 4.5 games out.
|Tampa Bay||36||19||.655||–||15-12||21-7||286||196||+90||Lost 1|
|NY Yankees||34||21||.618||2||19-7||15-14||308||222||+86||Lost 1|
One month ago, on the late GMS’ birthday, the Yanks had made their move, going 16-10 while the Rays went 12-14 and Boston raked to a 17-9 record:
|NY Yankees||50||31||.617||–||28-13||22-18||436||340||+96||Won 2|
|Tampa Bay||48||33||.593||2||20-19||28-14||411||312||+99||Won 2|
Hey look, Boston was in 2nd, a half-game ahead of those Rays. The Yanks went 16-9 which is pretty darned good any time of the year. It’s just that the Rays were hotter, going 19-6 while Boston floundered with a 12-13 record. And the standings as of today:
|Tampa Bay||67||39||.632||–||34-21||33-18||536||403||+133||Won 3||9-1|
|NY Yankees||66||40||.623||1||34-18||32-22||571||441||+130||Lost 3||5-5|
Said differently, this race is a freakin’ battle. No different than we thought it would be before the season started. Teams go hot and cold, sometimes without rhyme or reason, without warning or notice. But to lay blame to this recent stretch (since July 4th) in which the Yanks STILL played to a .640 winning percentage (better than their full year winning percentage of .623) around the neck of ARod is a joke. The Rays have gone 9-1. Hard to keep up with that at any time of the year.
Putting the blame on ARod means a few things, things I do not subscribe to and I know many of my friends/peers probably agree with:
- Making ARod the scapegoat is wrong. Actually, it’s absurd.
- This line of reasoning is predicated on a ridiculously small sample size
- It discounts the achievements of the Rays, who, just in case some in the MSM don’t know, are absolutely FOR REAL.
- All three of the Yanks/Rays games this past weekend could have gone the other way. One team, either team, could have swept or been swept. It was that close.
- Two lackluster pitching performances by AJ Burnett and Dustin Moseley are not exactly shocking. AJ has been up and down all year and Moseley isn’t going to be an October lynchpin.
Let’s try to keep a bit of perspective on this, please. It’s a crappy stretch for the Yanks. They could have been 6-4 or 7-3 in the last 10 and they’d still have lost ground to the Rays. This is the dogfight we expected all year. This is the fun stuff, the battles, the tug-of-war. This is where teams are tested and prepared for post-season stresses. Is anyone really surprised to see that the Rays and Yanks (and Boston) are engaged in this sort of battle royale? Let the MSM “panic” over falling out of first place.
We’ll see if the Yanks are better than their last 5 games or not. Me, I know so. I’m not happy with the recent stretch but I’m not panicking.
Just don’t blame this on ARod, his cold streak and the chase for #600.