September baseball means knowing your math.
Here’s the equation: six teams, two wild-card spots, eight days to go in the regular season.
Sometimes it’s also about playing two games in one night as the Rays and Orioles did Friday night/Saturday morning. Tampa Bay eventually prevailed 5-4 on a RBI single by former Royals outfielder David DeJesus in the 18th inning.
“That is the hunt for October — that’s everything you play 162 games for,” Tampa Bay’s Chris Gimenez said afterward. “That win means a lot for us. To win it the way we did, I hope we can run with it. It couldn’t have happened at a better time. It’s a huge boost for us.”
The Rays won on Star Wars night, so perhaps it was fitting that in the wee hours of Saturday morning, Tampa Bay’s Luke Scott went to the clubhouse and returned wearing a Chewbacca mask. Reliever Jamey Wright threw curveball with a Gene Simmons look.
“In my book,” Rays outfielder Sam Fuld told reporters, “Chewbacca won us the game.”
The Force may indeed have been with the Rays, but it’s tough to harness that kind of power in late September. Particularly when five other teams are taking part in a game of musical chairs.
“It’s not easy to make the playoffs, it sure isn’t,” Orioles outfielder Nate McLouth told reporters last week. “Doing it last year was kind of an eye-opener on exactly how it’s got to be done. It’s a grind, it’s a battle to make the playoffs.”
Here’s how that battle shapes up: