Remember when the Tampa Bay Rays had started the season with a 29-7 record? They were the team to beat, running away with the division and had to be considered a World Series favourite. The AL East was already over. However, someone forgot to tell the Baltimore Orioles that they were fighting for second place.
The Rays have not been the same team over the past few weeks as they have posted a 31-32 recording since that hot start. Their lineup has sputtered as injuries have taken their toll on the pitching staff. The Orioles, meanwhile, have continued to be that scrappy underdog, continuing to steadily march forward and rack up wins.
Baltimore Orioles not letting up on Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays skid, coupled with the Orioles continued success, has led to the inevitable. The Orioles are now atop the AL East by five percentage points, having made up five games in the standings in their past ten contests. This marks the first time since April 2 that the Rays are not alone in first in the division, a mark made all the more remarkable considering that their 60 wins are the second most in the majors.
And the Orioles are not stopping there. They are not content being that feel good story in the AL East for a second consecutive season. Not only have their youngsters stepped up, but the Orioles are already making moves. Shintaro Fujinami’s overall numbers may be horrendous, but he has quietly been a solid bullpen piece since June 5 and could be a steal for Baltimore. One has to feel that the Orioles will continue to add to their roster.
Both teams face an important test beginning on Thursday. They have a four game set against each other in Tampa Bay, as important of a series as there can be in the middle of July. It will be a great test for both teams, especially as the Rays look to take control of the division once more.
The Baltimore Orioles have caught the Tampa Bay Rays. Staying atop the AL East is going to be the hard part.