The Tampa Bay Rays finished up a ten game road trip with a win against the New York Yankees on Sunday afternoon. The Rays’ pitching and offense looked solid in the 5-1 victory. Erik Bedard picked up his first win of the season, showing that he has the capability to be a more than adequate replacement in their starting rotation. Bedard pitched six innings, allowing six hits and an earned run. The Rays’ offense totaled thirteen hits in the game, and knocked CC Sabathia out in the fourth inning after scoring five runs off of the struggling former ace. Wil Myers led the offensive attack with an inside-the-park homerun and four RBIs.
Sunday’s victory was the Rays’ fourth in the last five games, and gave them their second consecutive series win against an AL East rival. The Rays took two out of three games against the Boston Red Sox last week, and did the same against the Yankees this weekend. The Rays have had a very strong start to May after what was a somewhat disappointing April.
The Rays start a six game home stretch on Tuesday with a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles followed by a three-game series with the Cleveland Indians. It is important that the Rays make the most of their games back at Tropicana, and continue to perform well in the month of May. The AL East is looking very competitive, with all five teams hovering around the .500 mark. The Rays are now tied for third place in the division with the Red Sox, and are two games behind the first place Yankees.
Given the amount of injuries that the Rays have had to deal with, they should be pretty happy with where they currently stand. The division is wide open, and there is still plenty of baseball to be played. Due to the fact that all of the teams in the AL East appear to be relatively even, it is important that the Rays continue to make the most of their games against division rivals.
They must also hope that their substitutes in the starting rotation can hold up until Alex Cobb returns in early June and Jeremy Hellickson does the same at the end of June. In addition to the pressure the lack of starting pitching has put on the Rays’ lineup, it has also put a lot of burden on the bullpen. Joe Maddon has been forced to use his relievers a lot recently, which will eventually take its toll on them. The Rays decided to cut ties with former all-star closer Heath Bell this weekend after he surrendered fourteen earned runs in 17.1 innings of work over the course of thirteen games this season.
The Rays have managed to do just enough so far this season to stay optimistic, but there is no question that their play needs to improve if they want to make a serious run at the playoffs this season. For now, all the Rays can do is hope that their starters return from their injuries without any setbacks, and that the rest of the team can step up their play in the meantime.