The Rays open a vital three-game set with the Blue Jays tonight.
Let’s be honest, there are only vital series remaining until the Rays or Yankees get an x and a y next to their name on the tote board.
Thinking about this series made me nervous after the weekend’s playoff atmosphere. One of my few criticisms of Joe Maddon is that his teams have a propensity to let up when they crest a big hill during the season.
Looking back, the Rays were 17-21 in the first series of games following a series against Boston or New York in 2008. They were 10-19 in those games in 2009.
I suspect that kind of let down is caused by two things:
- Maddon’s willingness to allow a free and easy clubhouse atmosphere, which naturally lends itself to some premature celebration or self-loathing; and
- The team’s inexperience and willingness to think of itself as an underdog.
As I wrote this morning, this team looks to me like it knows it is the best team in baseball. The numbers back me up.
The 2010 Rays are currently 19-8 in the series of games following a series with Boston or New York. Add in the embarrassment of the Rays last stop in Toronto, and the minuscule margin for error to stay in first place, and I think Toronto is in for a tough week.
- The team’s inexperience
Rays record after playing Sox/NYY