ST. PETERSBURG — It was one month ago to the day that I used this space to essentially write the Rays off for 2015.The offense was sputtering as it always does. The starting pitching was showing a few cracks. The bullpen was leaking oil.The Rays were exactly .500 and 3½ games back in the wild-card race. They certainly weren't out of it, but it didn't feel like they were in it, either.Well, here we are again. A month later and almost nothing has changed. The Rays are two games under .500 after Wednesday night's disheartening 5-3 loss to the Twins. Somehow, they're pretty much in the same spot in the race as they were a month ago.Still in it. But not really.Maybe it's because too many teams are fighting for too few spots. Maybe it's because injuries continue to pile up. Or maybe it's because you look at this team and it simply doesn't feel like a playoff team.Whatever the reason, this season is slipping away, limping to an unhappy end.The lineup still has way too many holes, as proven by the wasted chances Wednesday. The bullpen is using gas instead of water to put out fires. Even the starting pitching isn't as lock-down solid as it was earlier.You look at the standings and you see a team that remains in a decent position to make a run. But you look at this team, you watch it play every day, and you just don't get that playoff vibe.Inside the Rays clubhouse, the belief remains strong."Very," manager Kevin Cash said when asked how realistic he thought the Rays' playoff chances were.It really is remarkable that the Rays still have a puncher's chance.They've had 11 total starts this season from what were supposed to be their three best starting pitchers — Alex Cobb, Matt Moore, Drew Smyly. Key reliever Jake McGee is on the disabled list for the second time. Every day, it seems, there's another roster move.Their best player, Evan Longoria, has been a run-of-the-mill hitter for much of the season. Steven Souza Jr. and Desmond Jennings can't stay healthy and haven't done a whole lot when they have been. Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera was awful at the plate for the first half, and catcher Rene Rivera has been awful for both halves.Yet the Rays won't leave the party. Maybe being in contention says more about how mediocre the American League is than how good they are. If they were in the National League, they would be double-digits out of a playoff spot.But in the pedestrian AL, they are still alive."You don't want to get too far ahead of yourself," Cash said, "but I think there are probably a handful of teams right now who are saying, 'If we can have one really good week of baseball, we can really change the outlook on this.' And we're in the same boat with a lot of those teams."Cash is absolutely right. If the Rays put together one really good week of baseball, they would be in great shape. But this team doesn't seem capable of putting together one really good week of baseball.When was the last time it did?You have to go back more than two months to mid June. The Rays swept the White Sox in a three-game set, took three of four against the Nationals then two of three against the Indians.At that point, the Rays were 10 games over .500. Since then, they are 12 games under .500.Does that sound like a team ready to go on a roll? What gives you any hope that a team that had one three-series stretch of outstanding baseball is suddenly going to get hot for six weeks? What about the past two months gives you any reason for optimism?The other problem is the Rays have a bunch of teams to climb over — the Orioles, Twins, Angels and Rangers — for the last playoff spot. Even if they do get toasty, chances are one of the other teams is going to catch fire, too.All the teams in the race are playing each other. On a given night, you might gain ground on one but not another. And that's assuming you keep winning. One loss and you're almost guaranteed to drop a game to one of the teams in the hunt. The Rays have dropped two in the past two nights to Minnesota.It almost doesn't pay to watch the out-of-town scoreboard because you don't even know whom to root for."It's kind of tough to sit here and say you're not paying attention to what other teams are doing," Cash said. "You pay attention, but it is kind of early for that. I think we all feel in this clubhouse that the way our schedule maps out the rest of the way, if we go play good baseball, we're going to be playing a lot of teams that we can make a dent in this thing."Cash paused and said, "Probably better off to just go out and win your own games."Sounds good.It just doesn't sound realistic.