The Rays have reclaimed sole possession of the top spot in the AL East (and all of Major League Baseball) for the first time since June 12. That's because the Rays are back to doing well the things they do well: pitching, defense and timely hitting. It's also due in large part to BJ Upton, a key contributor to two of those key principles.
While his defense has been taken for granted to some extent, BJ's offense has been a significant factor in the team's most recent success. Consider just the past three games:
- Sunday, he went 1 for 4 as the Rays shut out the Yankees to close out that series.
- On Monday, rookie pitcher Jeremy Hellickson's Major League debut against the Twins, a team that had won eight straight coming in, he went 3 for 4 with a double and 3 stolen bases.
- Last night, he went 2 for 4, with 3 rbi that came on a tie-breaking and eventual game-winning homer.
Add it up and that's a batting average of .500 over three huge games versus quality opponents. Keeping in mind that the Rays are currently without the services of Carlos Pena and Ben Zobrist, the timing couldn't be better.
Granted, three consecutive games is a ridiculously small sample size but if he had three BAD games in a row (maybe less), it would be enough for people to want to run him out of town. So if you're being fair, and you should be, you've got to give the guy credit for stepping up when the team needed it.