It’s no secret that the boys in blue have struggled at the Trop, dropping their first series of the season to the Rays this weekend. No matter the numbers, the importance of the games in Tampa cannot be understated.
Toronto’s recent series against the Tampa Bay Rays was disappointing, to say the least. The Jays, who had just come off of a doubleheader split against the powerful Cleveland Indians, cruised into Tampa Bay with the hopes of preying on the lowly Rays. Unfortunately, they dropped the series.
According to mcubed.net, the Jays are 72-105 all-time at Tropicana Field, a winning percentage of .407. They’ve been slowly improving, posting winning records in two of their last four seasons.
At this point, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of winning games against the Rays at the Trop. From here on in, the Jays play 16 games against the Rays (12.5% of their remaining games), with seven of those coming in Tampa.
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In the AL East, winning games against division rivals is key, especially when the teams below you are far below you. The current landscape of the AL East is an interesting one, with polarizing opponents all around. The Red Sox and Yankees are fantastic, while the Orioles and Rays are set up to finish the season with terrible records. The Jays are smack dab in the middle, not quite a legitimate contender but also not ready to roll over.
Coming into Sunday’s series finale, the Jays sat just two and a half games ahead of the Rays in the division. Not only are they in danger of losing their standing in the wild card race, but they’re also quite close to dropping to fourth in their division.
Yes, it’s early, and yes, the Tampa Bay Rays will likely not finish the season with a winning percentage of .484, but that doesn’t make these games any less important. As the old adage goes: “Game 1 is worth just as much as Game 162”.
For whatever reason, the Blue Jays can’t seem to get it together at Tropicana Field. At this point, it almost doesn’t matter, they just need to grind out some wins and try to escape the season series with a winning record.