The Rays are right in the thick of the playoff hunt despite being in baseball's toughest division. With a sweep of the Jays this week, Tampa has moved just a half-game back in the wild card chase. If last year's any indication, they should pass Baltimore with about three minutes to go in the season.
The really surprising thing, though, is that the Rays done it by beating up on rivals. At 27-20, Tampa has the East's best intra-divisional record; they've just been awful against the Central, going 8-16. They've lost five of seven against Detroit, four of eight against Cleveland, and have lost all three games to both Chicago and Kansas City. In fact, the only team they have a winning record against in the Central is the Twins, against whom they're 2-1.
Evan Longoria missed 85 games due to a torn hamstring, but he returned to the lineup on Tuesday as the designated hitter. (He then promptly struck out three times in four at-bats on Wednesday, so there's a bit of rust to shake off, but still.) According to DRays Bay, the team was 41-44 without Longoria, a span in which Tampa's third and fourth hitters combined to bat .227 with 12 home runs.
This also helps explain Tampa's major problem this year, which is that the team can't score runs to save itself. The Rays are second-to-last in the American League in run, ahead of only Seattle. They're second-to-last in OPS, last in total bases - they've even only hit one more home run than the Twins. (This ties them for tenth in the AL.)
Tsuyoshi Nishioka has not been released. This has been your hourly "Has Tsuyoshi Nishioka Been Released" update.
Kyle Gibson is working his way back from Tommy John surgery, writes La Velle, and the team's still hoping he could reach 40 innings this year - perhaps even with some in Triple-A.
Also according to La Velle, Anthony Slama has completed a rehab assignment and is rejoining the Rochester club, presumably to continue pitching incredibly well before being called up, given one inning of work, allowing a run, and then being lambasted by all and sundry in the Twins coaching' box and front office.
In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.