Rays want lightning of 2011 to strike twice

Rays want lightning of 2011 to strike twice

Rays want lightning of 2011 to strike twice
NEW YORK -- Things are different, but they're also very much the same, as the 2012 Rays try to replicate what last year's club were able to pull off.

Trailing the Orioles and Yankees in the American League East and for a Wild Card spot, the Rays are again trying to stage a late-season comeback after climbing back against remarkable odds last year.

If one thing is different, it's that there are now three playoff spots up for grabs, with the second Wild Card added.

"The other part is the offensive side of this thing," manager Joe Maddon said. "We haven't had that offensive magic going on, and we need that because we've been pitching well and been doing pretty good on defense. We've got to somehow conjure up that offensive magic for this run."

Last year, the Rays trailed the Red Sox by nine games as late as Sept. 1, but they managed to storm back and claim the AL Wild Card. This season, Tampa Bay was a season-high 10 1/2 games behind New York in the AL East at the end of play on July 18, but it has gained 7 1/2 games in that span.

"It's definitely similar," Matt Joyce said. "Everybody knows anything can happen in the last couple weeks. Our mindset is the same. Just continue to try to play good baseball. We understand anything is possible, anything can happen. We still have a chance."