NEW YORK -- Last week, the Angels celebrated.
|The Rays have had a lot of practice celebrating. (Getty Images)|
Could be, and it could happen this week, during a seven-game homestand that begins Monday night against Boston. The Rays lead the Red Sox by one game in the American League East, but their magic number to clinch a playoff spot is down to eight.
They'll have a chance to reduce it by two a night during a four-game series against Minnesota, beginning Thursday, so a clinch at home is hardly out of the question.
And if the Rays do clinch a playoff spot while the AL East race is still very much undecided, there's no longer any question that they'll celebrate.
"I'll go freaky, yeah," manager Joe Maddon said Sunday. "Absolutely. I'm a good celebrator."
Maddon says the Rays are among the best in baseball at celebrating walk-off wins, although it's hard to say how you'd prove that. He's fully prepared to let them celebrate a playoff-clinching, even as he insists that winning the division remains an important goal.
His players seem to agree.
"The more times we celebrate, the better," pitcher James Shields said. "That means we're still winning."
Shields used the word "amazing" to describe the Rays' rise. Rays management still isn't sure what to call it, although owner Stuart Sternberg, who grew up as a Mets fan, figures the 1969 Amazin' Mets are the closest thing to this year's Rays.
"How about Ray-mazing?" club president Matthew Silverman suggested.
Whatever you call it, it's a great story that only figures to get better this week.
"I think everybody's just stoked that the word 'playoffs' is in our vocabulary now," designated hitter Cliff Floyd said. "But we really want to win the division. It's something we want to do. It makes things a little easier on us."