The Rays Craze


By: Jeff Yoder

Happy Friday 

The Rays just rolled into the record books and both the NBA and NHL postseasons are about to launch a two-month campaign. We’ll look at the numbers behind Tampa Bay’s historic start and analyze both sets of playoff matchups (NBA & NHL) while making some of our own predictions. Are you ready for the weekend?

Letter Rip!


The Rays Craze

Photo: Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images

Rays Rallies to Beat Red Sox (9-3) & Tie Modern MLB Record for Best Start to a Season (13-0)

Ray it ain’t so! Make it a baker’s dozen for the home-run rakers from Tampa Bay. The Rays — seemingly a daily feature in our coverage these days — found themselves in unfamiliar territory on Thursday night in Tampa. They were trailing the Red Sox by two (3-1) and they had already lost starting pitcher Jeffrey Springs to injury. The response? A seven-run 5th inning to blow the doors off Boston (9-3) for their 13th consecutive win. Brandon Lowe belted a homer. Yandy Diaz did, too. And Harold Ramirez had himself a night (3-for-4, 3 RBIs). Brandon Bristo stepped in relief and delivered three hitless innings down the stretch. Bottom line: Tampa Bay is now 13-0 and tied for the modern MLB record for the best start to a season. Here are some facts about the historic streak that’ll keep raking into the weekend.

Rays in the Record Books

The Rays are the fourth team in MLB history to start 13-0, joining the 1987 Brewers (13-0) and 1982 Braves (13-0), but that’s where the modern era streak ends. The 1884 St. Louis Maroons (20-0) hold the all-time record start.

Notable Stats From the Start

Tampa Bay has hit 32 home runs to lead the majors, and they have a +71 run differential — the most through 13 games by any team after 1893 when the mound was moved. They’ve led for 111 out of 117 innings this season. It’s also the longest winning streak in Rays franchise history (12 games, June 2004).

No matter how you spin it, the Rays are raking homers and throwing heat. They look downright unbeatable over a nine-inning outing. Next up: A weekend series at Toronto and a shot at more history.

Watch: Rays Rally to Beat Red Sox & Reach Historic 13-0 Start

Read: Rays Now Chasing A Guy Named Buttercup & 139 Years of History

MLB Quick-Hitters

Twins Toast Yankees With 9-Run 1stThe Twins walked into New York and opened up a road roasting of the Yankees on Thursday with a 9-run 1st inning before cruising to an 11-2 win. Minnesota’s young prospect Edouard Julien got his first hit in that 1st inning — his first career home run in his first at-bat.

Rutschman Adds Walk-Off to Rookie ReelAdley Rutschman is finding his swing with the Orioles, and Thursday at Camden Yards yielded his biggest moment yet. After the Orioles and A’s had a slugfest result in a 7-7 game, Rutschman smacked a towering walk-off solo shot for Baltimore and a moment he’ll never forget.

Tatis Takes Over in Tune-UpFernando Tatis Jr. will rejoin the Padres in about a week, and he looks ready to go after last night’s Triple-A tune-up in El Paso. Tatis Jr. had a 5-hit, 3-homer night with 8 RBIs.



NHL Playoff Predictor

Photo: Icon Sportswire / Getty Images

NHL Playoff Picture Becomes Crystal Clear as Regular Season Wraps Up Tonight

Almost all of the NHL teams have completed their regular season schedules with just two more games tonight, and that means we’re (almost) ready to make our playoff predictions. The playoffs won’t start until next Monday, but we already know one thing for certain — nobody is stopping the Boston Bruins. The East is locked. The West road runs through Vegas, but there’s a chance for movement on the final day between seeds 2-4. Here’s a look at the first-round matchups and who we like to capture the Stanley Cup in June.

NHL Playoff Matchups

*Subject to Change With Two Games Remaining

Eastern Conference Matchups

#1 Bruins vs. #8 Panthers

#2 Hurricanes vs. #7 Islanders

#3 Devils vs. #6 Lightning

#4 Maple Leafs vs. #5 Rangers

Western Conference Matchups

#1 Golden Knights vs. #8 Jets

#2 Stars vs. #7 Kraken

#3 Oilers vs. #6 Kings

#4 Avalanche vs. #5 Wild

Editor’s Note: The Avalanche, Oilers and Stars could be shuffled between the 2, 3 and 4 seeds after tonight’s final game for the Avs (Avalanche at Predators, 8:00 pm ET).

Our Predictions: There’s the Boston Bruins vs. The Field, and we’re taking the Bruins. A lot of shuffling in the East could watch the other contenders bury themselves in extensive series while the Bruins run roughshod over the conference. The West is anyone’s to win, but we like the Oilers and the red-hot stick of Connor McDavid to overtake the Stars and Golden Knights. Give us Bruins over Oilers in a scintillating Stanley Cup Finals.

NHL Highlights

Toews Scores in Chicago SendoffThe Blackhawks had nothing to play for in their final regular season game last night, but the Chicago faithful gave a fitting farewell to Blackhawks legend Jonathan Toews. Toews scored a goal in his final game — a 5-4 OT loss to the Flyers. The 34-year-old won’t be resigned after 15 years in Chicago. He played over 1,000 games and scored 371 goals for the Blackhawks.

Canes Clinch MetroThe Hurricanes beat the Panthers last night (6-4) in a game that featured eight 3rd-period goals — four each. Brent Burns scored twice while Sebastian Aho added one goal and one assist, and the Canes officially clinched the Metro and the No. 2 seed in the East.

Oilers Win 9th StraightOther than the Bruins, nobody in the NHL is playing like the Oilers down the stretch. Edmonton claimed a 5-2 win over the Sharks last night behind Leon Draisaitl’s 1-goal, 2-assist night. The Oilers have won nine straight and 14 of their last 15.

Avs Alive for 2-SeedThe Avalanche topped the Jets (4-2) thanks to a 3-0 run in the final 25 minutes on Thursday night to keep pace with the Stars in the Central race. Colorado is currently the 4-seed in the West, but they can overtake Dallas for the Central Division crown and No. 2 spot with a win in tonight’s game (8:00 pm ET).



NBA Playoff Predictor

Photo: Christian Petersen / Getty Images

Tonight’s Play-In Games Fill Out The 8-Seeds in Round 1 of NBA Playoffs, But Who Is The Team To Beat?

The NBA Play-In has provided plenty of intrigue over the last few days, and it comes to a head tonight with the 8-seeds on the line. The Bulls-Heat (7:00 pm ET) and Thunder-Timberwolves (9:30 pm ET) will duke it out for the final spots. Then, the real playoffs start on Saturday. With first-round action on the way, here’s a look at the playoff matchups starting this weekend:

Eastern Conference Matchups

#1 Bucks vs. 8-Seed TBD

#2 Celtics vs. #7 Hawks

#3 76ers vs. #6 Nets

#4 Cavaliers vs. #5 Knicks

Western Conference Matchups

#1 Nuggets vs. 8-Seed TBD

#2 Grizzlies vs. #7 Lakers

#3 Kings vs. #6 Warriors

#4 Suns vs. #5 Clippers

Our Predictions: It’s hard to isolate just one first-round matchup as the most interesting because, well, they all are. Cavs-Knicks has the potential to go seven games, and most of the West matchups do, too. We’ll take the Bucks to come out of the East after the Celtics and 76ers likely beat each other up with a war of attrition in the East semifinals. Out West, the Suns can get past the Clippers and Nuggets to reach the West Finals. We like the Warriors to take down the Kings and outlast the Grizzlies in a thrilling semifinal series, but the champs’ repeat bid stops there. Give us Bucks-Suns in a repeat of the 2021 NBA Finals with the Suns claiming the Larry O’Brien Trophy this time around.

Tonight’s Play-In Schedule (8-Seeds)

East: Bulls at Heat (Fri. 7:00 pm)

West: Thunder at Timberwolves (Fri. 9:30 pm)

Additional Storylines

SI: Thunder Are Proving the Play-In Tournament is Working

ESPN: The Stars, Stats & Storylines That Matter Most This NBA Postseason

Yahoo! Sports: Warriors’ Andrew Wiggins Cleared to Play After Nearly 2 Months Away



 MLB Power Rankings

After two weeks of baseball, the Rays remain undefeated, their 12-0 start the best since the 1987 Brewers. Will they be able to keep up this dominance? Or will the division rival Yankees catch them soon enough? (ESPN)

 NBA Players With Most To Prove

Everyone involved will feel the heat of the 2023 NBA playoff pressure cooker. A few will feel it more than most. The temperature rises for different reasons, and these players will have the most to prove in this year’s postseason. (Bleacher Report)

 Unpopular NFL Draft Opinions

The 2023 NFL Draft is full of seemingly can’t-miss prospects. But if history tells us anything, it’s that the draft is more unpredictable than not. All it takes is one team to value a prospect differently than another, and the entire board can be sent into a tizzy. (CBS Sports)