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Rays enjoying extended stretch of winning baseball

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The Rays will enjoy an off day on Thursday after traveling back from the Pacific Time Zone. Their most recent road trip ended on a couple of sour notes, but there is plenty to be pleased about.

Tampa Bay lost the final game in Oakland on Wednesday, Jake Faria lost his first game as a Rays starter, and Steven Souza, Jr. suffered a hip injury. But the good far outweighs the bad.

The Rays finished 4-2 on their California road trip to start the second half. They took two of three games in Oakland and Anaheim. The success in Oakland marked only the third time Tampa Bay has won a series there in their history.

“We couldn’t quite finish it off today, but the objective is to win series,” manager Kevin Cash told the media. “We won another series, which is very important right now.”

The Rays have regularly won series for 6 weeks. Over that span they have won 7 series, lost two and split three. Since June 7, Tampa Bay has compiled a 22-14 record, the best in the American League.

Today, Tampa Bay stands just three games behind the East Division-leading Boston Red Sox. They lead the Wild Card race over the New York Yankees.

Pessimists will say that the Rays bulked up on losing teams. While it is true that only two teams, the Chicago Cubs and the Red Sox, have winning records, Major League Baseball proves that on a given day any team can beat another.

Over their last 12 games, they beat the Cubs and Red Sox four of six before the All-Star break. They played 8 of those 12 on the road, going 5-3 to improve their mark away from home to 24-26 on the season.

Faria deserves some credit for their extended success. The loss Wednesday dropped him to 4-1, but his string of 6 straight quality starts was responsible for putting his team in position to continue winning.

Souza is a major contributor both at the plate and in the outfield. Cash and the Rays hope his injury is not serious.

The matchups against sub-.500 teams continue with six home games against the Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles beginning Friday. They will finish the month against the Yankees in New York and four more games against the Houston Astros, holders of baseball’s best record.

 

Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at Bob@ramos-sparks.com.

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