Surging Rays in Tight Race With Red Sox Atop AL East

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Tampa Bay has won 15 of its last 16 games and leads the AL East heading into Monday’s game against the New York Yankees. The Rays are second in the American League in runs and third in ERA. They’re 19-7 on the road.

Tampa Bay is doing all of this after trading former Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell to San Diego in the offseason. Snell is struggling out west — he’s 1-2 with a 5.55 ERA — and a couple of the players the Rays received in return have contributed for them. Luis Patiño is 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA in five appearances, and catcher Francisco Mejía has started 21 games behind the plate.

Of course, it’s another Tampa Bay catcher who has really turned heads. Mike Zunino already has a dozen homers.

The Rays also have the game’s top prospect, per MLB Pipeline: Shortstop Wander Franco seems to have adjusted fine to Triple-A this year. Tampa Bay traded shortstop Willy Adames to Milwaukee on May 21, and J.P. Feyereisen — one of the pitchers the Rays received — already has two saves since the deal.

Tampa Bay has a one-game lead in the division over Boston. The Red Sox also have an impressive road record (16-7) and their run differential of plus-54 is almost equal to Tampa Bay’s plus-61. The Yankees are 4 1/2 games back after being swept in a three-game series at Detroit. But they have a chance to make up ground in a four-game home series against the Rays.

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