The Tampa Bay Rays won in dramatic fashion on both Sunday and Monday, extending their winning streak to 11 games and taking over first place in the highly competitive AL East race.
The Rays beat the Toronto Blue Jays 14-8 on Monday, overcoming two Vladimir Guerrero Jr. home runs to win in 11 innings.
Rays pile on for extra-innings win
Tampa Bay jumped out to a five-run lead in the top of the first, thanks primarily to a Joey Wendle grand slam. But they failed to score after that in regulation, while Toronto chipped away with four homers of their own to send the game to extra innings.
Both teams scored two runs in the 10th, but the Rays put up seven runs in the 11th inning to put the game away.
“Everyone has to play a role when you score that many runs,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash told reporters. “But it was a big back-and-forth game.”
Monday’s win followed an even more dramatic victory on Sunday. The Rays scored four runs in the top of the ninth to take a come-from-behind 6-4 win over the Blue Jays.
The 11-game win streak is one short of the longest win streak in Tampa Bay franchise history. The Rays can match that mark with a victory over the Kansas City Royals at home on Tuesday night.
“They’re having a good time right now and they should be,” Cash said after Sunday’s win. “They’ve played so well. It’s been fun to watch.”
Yankees still favorites in AL East race
The Rays now stand at 30-19, a half-game ahead of the Boston Red Sox at the top of the AL East standings. The New York Yankees – who have won six in a row themselves – are just one game back.
The powerhouse Yankees remain the favorites to win the AL East. FanDuel Sportsbook lists New York as a -140 pick to top the division, ahead of the Rays (+400), the Red Sox (+430), and the Blue Jays (+600), who still expect to contend despite falling to .500 after a six-game losing streak.
|AL East Odds (via FanDuel Sportsbook)
|New York Yankees: -140
|Tampa Bay Rays: +400
|Boston Red Sox: +430
|Toronto Blue Jays: +600
|Baltimore Orioles: +30000
Tampa Bay is coming off a season in which they reached the World Series, and the team is built to compete again. The Rays rank in the top-10 in the majors in both runs scored and runs allowed per game. Wendle (.298, 5 HR) and catcher Mike Zunino (.223, 11 HR) lead a balanced offense, while Tyler Glasnow (4-2, 2.90 ERA) anchors a solid starting rotation.
Tampa Bay is also continuing to make moves with an eye on the playoffs. The Rays traded shortstop Willy Adams and pitcher Trevor Richards to the Brewers last week in exchange for relievers JP Feyereisen and Drew Rasmussen.
“Their arms we believe have end-of-game potential,” Tampa Bay general manager Erik Neander said.
On paper, the Rays still don’t have the talent of the Yankees, and they certainly don’t have the resources. But so far, that hasn’t mattered to a franchise that has quietly become one of the most consistent winners in Major League Baseball.