Keeping an eye on those Rays?
If not, you should be. Ever since they ditched the "Devil" and altered the logo to reflect a "ray of sunshine," they've done nothing but win, making the playoffs three of five years and winning 90 games in another. The "disappointing" season was an 84-78 mark that many teams would take in a heartbeat most seasons.
And here come the 2013 Rays.
After spending most of the season in fourth place in the vaunted AL East, the Rays are now in second, squarely in the rearview mirror of the first-place Red Sox after having won six games in a row -- and 13 of their past 16. Meanwhile, Boston's three-game losing streak -- snapped Tuesday in Seattle -- allowed the Rays to climb within 3½ games.
It's easy to see where the change came from -- on the mound, where it always starts with the Rays. David Price is back from the DL and appears to be in ace form. Jeremy Hellickson has put a terrible first two months behind him and is 4-0 with a 1.38 ERA in his past four starts. Matt Moore still needs to work on his command, but the Rays have won 14 of his 18 starts this season.
And don't look now but Fernando Rodney has gone 12 chances without a blown save. He has also worked 10 straight scoreless appearances.
It seems like we've heard plenty about the resurgence of the Red Sox, the Orioles' powerful offense, the inexplicable manner in which the Yankees are surviving with a patchwork lineup and the Blue Jays' woes/one long winning streak.
Through it all, the Rays were lurking. And they're as good a bet as anyone to win baseball's toughest division.
Please feel free to contact me with comments either on Twitter (@MattSnyder27) or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. These were posted the morning of Wed., July 10. Any action coming after posting wasn't included here -- a fact that seems to escape many people later in the week.