Tampa Bay Rays: Is a Playoff Berth out of the Question for Maddon and Crew?

Connor McKnightSenior Analyst ISeptember 15, 2012

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 13: The Tampa Bay Rays bench looks on from the dugout during the thirteen inning of Rays 3-2 loss to the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 13, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

There is no better way to put it. The Tampa Bay Rays had an unbelievably rough week.

Now, with its playoff berth in serious jeopardy, the Rays will have to win and win only in the next few weeks. While the Oakland Athletics and the Baltimore Orioles sit comfortably at the top of the AL Wild Card race, the Rays are in danger of falling too far behind.

However, the relatively tough schedule of the past few weeks that consisted of series against the Yankees, Rangers and Orioles will lighten up, when victories become all the more imperative.

The Rays will now open up a series against the Yankees before taking on the weaker yet still competitive bottom dwellers of the AL East, the Boston Red Sox and the Toronto Blue Jays.

Even if the Rays can somehow manage to blow through competition and win a healthy percentage of these remaining games, are they far enough out of a playoff berth that it would take a miracle to reach the postseason?

The Tampa Bay Rays are no stranger to an eventful September. Last year's closing day thriller against the Yankees ended a fantastic season on a high note.

But what about this year?

The Rays have battled injuries, particularly in the first few months of the season, like when they lost slugger Evan Longoria. The offense lulled during his absence and the Rays definitely lost some games they should not have during the period.

But here they are again, a small-market team battling the giants for a shot in the playoffs. No one knows who will be playing in October. But the Rays still have a shot.