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Rays Closing In On Wild Card, American League East Showdown On The Rise

With only 30 games left this season, the Rays are 6.5 games behind New York for the Wild Card. That's not very much if the Yankees skid at all. Taking a look, no AL East team will have it easy in the final stretch. Here's a quick breakdown of the Rays' schedule from DRaysBay's weekly rewind:

The Rays will play the Toronto Blue Jays 4 times (3 home/1 away), Texas Rangers 6 times (3 home/3 away), Boston Red Sox 7 times (3 home/4 away), Baltimore Orioles 6 times (3 home/3 away), and the New York Yankees 7 times (3 home/4 away). The 7 games against Yankees will be played over the final 9 days of the season.

The Yankees will play a doubleheader versus the Orioles on Monday [much to the Yanks' chagrin], travel to Boston for three game series against the Red Sox, and return home to take on the Blue Jays over the weekend. The Red Sox have an off day on Monday before hosting the New York Yankees for three games and host the Texas Rangers for a three game series over the weekend.

In other words, no one has it easy. A look at our opponents after the jump.

The Red Sox are still red hot. The team is first in the majors in batting average, on base percentage and slugging percentage. They are second in runs scored. Their Achilles heel may still be the pitching rotation, but with bats that heavy it's hard for them to lose. They will face New York (3 home/3 away), Texas (3 home), Toronto (4 away, 2 home), Tampa Bay (3 away, 4 home), and Baltimore (4 home, 3 away).

The Yankees are first in runs scored, second in on base percentage and slugging percentage, and fifth in batting average. They too have a weak rotation, but the holes are not so glaring. Yet despite being a more well rounded team, they are 10-10 over their last 20 games. The team will travel the west coast (Seattle and LA Angels) after a series at Boston and hosting Baltimore and Toronto. If today's double header i moved, add an extra game back in Baltimore on their only day of rest.

The Yanks finish the season 3 at Toronto, at home for 7 games (1 Twins, 3 Rays, 3 Red Sox) and then play their last 3 in the Trop. The Rays are poised for a come back, resurgent with a 14-6 record over the last 20 games, and will have plenty of opportunities to close the door on the Yankees if they falter. If the Rays hold up their end and fight, we will surely have a close finish.

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