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Big League Stew

Red Sox stay hot by not playing; Rays fall 2 1/2 back in wild card

David Brown
Big League Stew

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The Boston Red Sox haven't won a game in five days, and they haven't played since Wednesday. And yet, they keep gaining in the AL wild card race. That's because the Tampa Bay Rays cannot take full advantage of Boston's spectacular September swoon.

The guys in the photo — which might be the saddest-looking picture taken this major league season — are reacting to the Rays' 5-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night. It knocked Tampa-St. Petersburg three games in the loss column behind Boston with five scheduled days to go in the regular season.

Pitcher James Shields (left) looks like he just found a ransom note for Astro, David Price's best friend. Evan Longoria seemingly can't figure out what happened to his cap, or that one girl from earlier. Sean Rodriguez presumably hates — hates! — how Yankees announcer Michael Kay pronounces his last name.

More than likely, the consternation comes from watching Toronto right-hander Brandon Morrow pitch seven scoreless innings and strike out nine. The Jays soaring to a 3-0 lead in the third inning after two Price throwing errors didn't help, either.

The Rays, who were nine games back of the Red Sox earlier this month and appeared on the cusp of overtaking them, have dropped four of five games. With time running out, the Rays are actually closer to being overtaken by the Angels. Manager Joe Maddon knows what time it is: {YSP:MORE}

"You've got to throw this in the trash can very fast," Maddon said. "We did not play well. We didn't hit well, we didn't do anything well. Trash it, then come back tomorrow and get back on the right track. We're running out of time, but there is time. We've got to come back play our normal game."

Meanwhile, the Red Sox aren't looking quite as sickly to make the playoffs. That's what happens when you get a day off, plus a rainout, to prevent you from losing again. Matt Snyder of CBS Sports Eye on Baseball did a quick post on where all of the relevant teams stand. Reliable computer projections give the Red Sox have a 95.7 chance of making the playoffs

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Boston Red Sox
88-68
Remaining schedule: 3 @ NYY, 3 @ BAL
Coolstandings.com expectancy of wild card: 95.2 percent

Tampa Bay Rays
86-71, 2.5 GB
Remaining schedule: 2 v. TOR, 3 v. NYY
Coolstandings.com expectancy of wild card: 3.7 percent

Los Angeles Angels
85-72, 3.5 GB
Remaining schedule: 2 v. OAK, 3 v. TEX
Coolstandings.com expectancy of wild card: 1.1 percent

Despite being 5-16 in September, the Red Sox appear to be running out of time to blow the playoffs completely. But, just in case things turn absurd in the final days and the teams end up tied through Game 162, the Rays have tiebreaker advantages.

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