The Tampa Bay Rays rolled into Yankee Stadium with the best record in baseball, a three-game lead over the Yankees for first place in the AL East, a dominant starting pitching staff and a four-game winning streak.

And after last night's 10-6 win, the Rays proved they're for real. Even if they're not playing their best baseball right now.

It's true.

Yes, Tampa Bay (29-11) has the second-best pitching staff in baseball, right behind the surprising San Diego Padres. The Rays have a 2.77 ERA. Tampa Bay entered last night's game with their starters boasting a 21-6 record with a 2.58 ERA.

The Rays did steal six bases last night, but their bats have been pretty quiet thus far. The Rays are hitting just .256 this season, 18th best in baseball. Tampa Bay is 20th in home runs with just 33. Other than Evan Longoria, Carl Crawford and Ben Zobrist, who has just recently increased his average, the Rays have struggled at the plate. Carlos Pena is hitting just .185 with five home runs and B.J. Upton is hitting .224 with four home runs.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Perhaps the DH spot will produce more now with Hank Blalock. Pat Burrell, who was off to a terrible start, was designated for assignment.

But the Rays have that strong pitching staff, they play with a lot of energy and they have plenty of confidence.

"Looking at the standings, they should be comparing [themselves] to us," Tampa Bay starter Matt Garza said last night after being asked if the Rays are trying to compare themselves to the World Champs.