With Friday's 5-0 win over the New York Yankees, the Tampa Bay Rays became just the fourth team in major league history to reach .500 after sitting 18 games under at any point during the season, per Matt Baker of the Tampa Bay Times.
Surprisingly enough, none of the previous three teams—including the 2004 Devil Rays—were able to finish the season above .500.
This year's Rays, who hit a low-water mark of 24-42 on June 10, have now won seven of their last nine games to pull even at 61-61. They've accumulated 37 wins against just 19 losses since June 10, good for a .661 winning percentage.
Such a tale of two seasons would typically be accompanied by a slew of injuries, and while the Rays have certainly dealt with their fair share, it really hasn't been anything out of the ordinary. In fact, the most significant injury was to 25-year-old starting pitcher Matt Moore, who was ruled out for the season in April because of a torn UCL in his left elbow that required Tommy John surgery.
Meanwhile, outfielder Wil Myers hasn't played since May 30 due to a wrist injury, and the team was able to turn things around without either Myers or Moore.
As well as the Rays have played for the last nine weeks, they still face an uphill battle to make the playoffs. They're nine games behind the division-leading Baltimore Orioles, with both the Toronto Blue Jays (7.5 back) and New York Yankees (eight back) sitting in between.
The wild-card race won't be much easier, as the Los Angeles Angels or Oakland Athletics figure to account for one spot, while the Rays sit 5.5 games back of the Seattle Mariners, who have won five consecutive games.
In addition to the stiff competition out west, the AL Central is also a threat to produce two playoff teams now that the Kansas City Royals have stormed ahead of the Detroit Tigers for the division lead.
According to FanGraphs.com's playoff odds, the Rays only have a 5.8 percent chance of qualifying for the postseason heading into Saturday's game against the Yankees.
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