Schedule (all games FSN)
Friday, 7:10pm: Cole De Vries vs. Jeremy Hellickson
Saturday, 6:10pm: Nick Blackburn vs. David Price
- Sunday, 1:10pm: Scott Diamond vs. James Shields
- 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.
- Trevor Plouffe is still at least a couple of days away from returning from his bruised thumb, and GM Terry Ryan says he may be due for a rehab assignment, according to MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger.
- 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.