ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — In case you haven’t noticed, the Tampa Bay Rays are the hottest team in Major League Baseball and boast the best record in the MLB.
When the calendar turned over from April to May, the Rays were two games under .500 at 13-15. Since that day, the team went 22-5 in May, including winning 16 of their last 17 games. The winning streak has pushed the Rays to a two-game lead in the division. Over those 16 wins, the Rays have been powered by their offense, outscoring opponents 119-54.
Making this more interesting is Tampa Bay is doing much of their damage without relying too much on the long ball, and while striking out quite a bit. The Rays rank third in MLB with 273 runs this season, rank second in doubles for the year, but are tied for ninth in home runs with 67 and lead the league in strikeouts at this point with 584.
Tampa Bay is playing this well without getting anywhere near breaking the bank. The Rays total payroll this year is the fifth-lowest in Major League Baseball, according to Spotrac.com. The Rays only beat out the Miami Marlins, Baltimore Orioles, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Cleveland Indians when it comes to spending on their roster.
The Rays should be able to continue their winning ways for the next week. After finishing up a four-game series in New York against the Yankees this week, the Rays travel to Texas for three games against the Rangers who are dead last in the AL West. Tampa then gets two against the NL East cellar-dwelling Washington Nationals and then finishes the five-game homestand against the Baltimore Orioles, who are last in the AL East.
In fact, after the fourth game of the Yankees series on Thursday, the Rays don’t play a team with a winning record until June 14 when they travel to play the division-leading Chicago White Sox. Then the calendar gets tough with Tampa Bay playing series’ against Seattle before easing up again with games against the Angels and Nationals to close out the month of June.