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When Does A Split Feel (Almost) As Good As A Sweep?

When your team convincingly wins the last two games of a four game series after having their heads handed to them in the first two and come away no worse in the standings than when the whole thing started. The Rays pounded the Yankees 10-3 in the Bronx Thursday night, bringing them back to a half game out of first, exactly where they were when the series began.

Now the Rays are down to their last ten games and the Yankees only have nine. And with Boston and New York going head-to-head the next three nights, it means at least one of the Rays Magic Numbers is guaranteed to shrink by at least one each night.

That's right, no matter how well (or not) the Rays do against the Mariners in the three game series that begins tonight at the Trop, they will gain ground on catching the Yankees or finishing off the Red Sox or both.

The Rays Magic Number to clinch the Wildcard is 4 and to clinch the Division, it's 11. If the Yankees take two of three against the Red Sox, the Wildcard number drops to 2 and the Division would be 10. If the Sox take two of three, the Wildcard number is 3 and the Division is 9. Oh, and don't forget to subtract however many games the Rays win in their series from BOTH numbers.

The ideal scenario? Rays and Red Sox sweep, which would leave the Rays with Magic Numbers of 1 and 5 for the Wildcard and Division title respectively.

Not too shabby after what we saw in the Bronx on Monday and Tuesday.

Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.