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Why the Yankees and Red Sox should fear resurgent Tampa Bay Rays

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With the all-star break in the rearview mirror, it’s time for second half of the MLB season to get underway. Here are the story lines that will shape the rest of the season.
USA TODAY Sports

OAKLAND – As the baseball world was engrossed – or not – by a New York Yankees-Boston Red Sox four-game series that yielded a split and had three of the games televised nationally over the weekend, the Tampa Bay Rays were quietly making inroads in the division race.

The Rays, who closed to within two games of AL East-leading Boston after beating the Oakland Athletics 3-2 on Monday night, were not moving in stealth fashion merely because they started the second half of the season on a West Coast trip, about 2,500 miles away from home.

That’s just how they operate. When you play in a mid-sized market in front of the smallest home crowds in the majors, that’s simply a fact of life.

“It’s nuts that we’re in second place in one of the toughest divisions in baseball and nobody’s saying anything about it,’’ outfielder…

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