The Tampa Bay Rays put another dent in the White Sox playoff hopes Saturday, but the bigger picture was hardly rosy for the Rays.
Their 10-4 victory was a dominating performance over the Sox, who trail the Detroit Tigers by two games with four to play. But the Rays’ playoff hopes took a hit just before the last out at U. S. Cellular Field when the Oakland Athletics pulled out an extra inning victory over Seattle on the West Coast.
It left the Rays three games behind the A’s for the second American League wild card with four games remaining.
“It’s tough but at the same time we put ourselves in this position,” said catcher Chris Jimenez, one of three Rays to homer in the game. Teammate Matt Joyce homered twice.
“We have to keep winning and hope for some help,” he said. “There’s still a little sense of urgency to keep winning. But it’s a chip and a chair–you know, in poker, as long as you have a chip and a chair, you have a chance.”
That will be the way both teams approach Sunday’s series finale, the final regular season home game for the Sox, who then head to Cleveland for three final regular season games.
The Rays go home to host the Baltimore Orioles, who are battling the Yankees for the AL East title or the first wild card.
The Rays cling to the hope a big series against the Orioles and stumbles by the A’s and LA Angels–who also are a game ahead of the Rays in the wild card chase–can bring a second straight miracle finish season for them.
The Rays entered Saturday’s game at 86-71, the same record they had last season when they trailed the Boston Red Sox by 2 games for the wild card. They won their final five games and clinched the wild card with an extra-inning victory against the Yankees on the last day of the regular season.
Saturday’s victory leaves four to match the goal.
“We just have to win our games, and I’m really pleased with how we played,” manager Joe Madden said. “We had a tough loss [Friday] and you read the epitaphs. But our guys came out and played the kind of game we played [during an eight game winning streak]. We have that within us.
“We do need help, and have to believe that will happen, but we just have to take care of our own business. We just have to play tomorrow.”