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Rays Had To Go And Make It Interesting

The Tampa Bay Rays should be concerned that in losing two of three to the Boston Red Sox, they couldn't make up any ground on the Yankees. But even more than that, they should be concerned by what's lurking behind them.

In not winning the Red Sox series, they left Boston right on the edge of still being in it with 22 games left (23 for the Rays). The Red Sox are now 6.5 games behind in the Wild Card race, when they could have been a much more daunting 8.5 if the Rays had taken care of business and swept.

The Rays got shelled twice by a Red Sox team that is missing Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron, among others. This is a team the Rays should be disposing of easily like they did in Tuesday's 14-5 win, not blowing 4-0 leads to like they did Wednesday night, regardless of how stacked Boston's farm system is.

And at this point, the Red Sox aren't the only ones still showing signs of life. The Chicago White Sox are half a game behind Boston in the Wild Card race, winning seven in a row before losing the last two to Detroit. For much of the season, the talk about the mad dash for the Wild Card involved the the Rays and Red Sox (and Yankees, though they just don't seem to want to lose). And now we're forced to include the White Sox in the conversation.

Between losing the weekend series to the Orioles and this series against the Red Sox, the Rays are in for a pressure-packed final stretch to the season - including seven more games against the Yankees (four in New York) - that really didn't need to be this intense. But the pitching has been questionable and the the bats have been inconsistent at the absolute wrong time. Now is as good a time as any to start playing with a little desperation.

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