Roger Mooney covers the Tampa Bay Rays for The Tampa Tribune, TBO.com and News Channel 8. He has covered the Rays since their first season in 1998, including 11 years for the Bradenton Herald. Roger has also covered Florida, South Florida and Florida State football, the Bucs and the Lightning.
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A new goal as postseason chances grow dim
Posted Sep 2, 2011 by Roger Mooney
Updated Sep 2, 2011 at 08:27 AM
ST. PETERSBURG The Rays begin a nine-game, three-team homestand tonight against the Baltimore Orioles mathematically alive in the playoff hunt, but very much in danger of watching others play in October.
They begin tonight 8 ½ games back of the Wild Card-leading Yankees with only 26 games remaining in the regular season.
Manager Joe Maddon, ever the optimist, knows it a return to the postseason doesn’t look too good, but he’s not about to give up hope just yet.
“It’s no fun, but I’ll tell you one thing, until the math tells otherwise, even if we can not arrive at that point, the second goal would be to have the third-best record in the American League, and that’s definitely within our reach,” Maddon said.
Kind of interesting to hear him talk about a second goal, especially when being the third-best team in the American League will get you nowhere unless you can claim one of the two playoff spots that will come out of the American League East.
You can just see the bumper stickers now if, say, the Yankees win the World Series:
“The World Champion New York Yankees wish to congratulate the Rays on having the third-best record in the American League. Way to go, boys.”
All Maddon is really saying is the Rays won’t quit until the regular season ends Sept. 28 against the visiting Yankees.
The players still feel they have a chance of catching the Yankees or Red Sox, should the Yankees overtake the first-place Red Sox. And after taking two of three this week in Boston, the Yankees trail the Red Sox by a half-game.
“Yeah, absolutely,” right fielder Matt Joyce said. “Until it’s finalized that we can’t, we’re obviously going to have the mindset that we can make it and we are going to make it, but we’re going to have to turn it around and get on a roll, but we’re certainly capable of it.”
The Rays need to get rolling fast.
Some offense will help, thought at this point of the season, it’s hard for an inconsistent offense to suddenly become consistent.
Playing the last place Orioles for three games might help.
But after the Orioles come the Rangers for three games and the Red Sox for three games. The Rangers, who just took two of three from the Rays, and the Red Sox are currently in first place in their respective divisions.
“We have the potential, that’s for sure,” Joyce said when asked about the spotty offense. “We have the guys who can do it. It’s just a matter of us getting hot and get rolling.”
The Rays are giving away plenty of free stuff over the homestand. In fact, there are five giveaways scheduled for the nine games.
Fans receive an Evan Longoria T-shirt tonight and a Casey Kotchman T-shirt on Sept. 9.
This Sunday, the first 10,000 kids 14 and under will receive an Evan Longoria Cereal Bowl presented by Bright House Sports Network.
The Rays will honor the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001 on Sept. 11. The first 10,000 kids 14 and under will receive a Rays Fire Helmet presented by Chili’s and the first 30,000 fans will receive a mini American flag.